Monday, September 1, 2014

The King is Dead: Ananzi's Web

Olaudah Equiano
Ananzi’s Web
Abolitionist and spies

“Ananzi the Spider is a weak creature, but a powerful hunter.  With its webs of silk, it can catch prey much larger than itself.  With its webs of words, Ananzi also caught all knowledge, tricking the lion and the elephant out of their secrets and teaching them to humankind.  When the foreigners came to the shores of Afar and stole its children, Ananzi’s knowledge traveled with them to the new lands across the sea…”
Anonymous, Ananzi’s Creed

When Malleus and its Ereban rivals began their conquest of the Caliban Sea and the Atlantikan continents, they brought pestilence and death to much of the native population.  In order to farm the rich soils of those lands, the Malleans and Erebans turned to the importation of black slaves from the Dark Coast of Afar.  Entire villages – entire nations – were clapped in irons and packed as cargo, sailed across the vast Atlantik Ocean, and turned into human tools.  Throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, slaveholding grew more common and even became fashionable amongst the aristocracy and gentry of Malleus.  Slaves were imported from the colonies and became household servants, dressed in gaudy costumes to emphasize their exoticness.  A significant population of Afari slaves, escaped slaves, and freedmen grew in throughout Greater Malleus.

Though brutal means – bridles, chains, humiliation, whips, and outright murder -- were used to break the wills of the Afari, they still fought to retain their humanity.  Enmities between rival tribes were forgiven on foreign soils, escaped slaves helped others escape, the rare freedmen established businesses or homes in order to hide fugitives, and soon Afari ghettos grew in Hammerstadt and other urban centers.  It took decades, but at last an organized resistance grew in the plantations and noble houses, a web of conspiracy connecting farm workers and freedmen, household slaves and saboteurs.  Named for Ananzi, a trickster god revered throughout the Dark Coast, this secret society protects the Afari ghettos, frees slaves when it can, and spies on the doings of the great and powerful.  Ananzi’s Web is spun far and wide.

Membership in Ananzi’s Web is far from universal amongst the Afari slave population, but it is growing. 
It is rare for a vampire noble to not have at least one Afari slave in his household, and the webspinners of Ananzi work hard to make sure that at least that one slave is a member of their society.  Since most aristocrats consider their slaves to be even less “human” than their Gothic and Keltisch servants, members of Ananzi’s Web are virtually invisible as they watch the planning and plotting of the vampires.  More than one cabal has been saved because a webspinner passed along word of a raid on their headquarters.  

Intelligence is often passed through the Afari communities that have emerged in Hammerstadt, Brustlager, and cities, and defending those ghettos has become the secondary purpose of the society.  Freedmen often find themselves threatened by malicious Mallean commoners, happy to vent their barely-suppressed fear and rage on those even less fortunate than themselves.  Some of Ananzi’s webspinners have been forced to grow fangs with which to defend their people, and turn to the fighting arts.  Other webspinners have adapted Ananzi’s gift with words into a secret weapon: Obeah, a system of magic as complex and flexible as the Ars Mercurius of the Illuminated, but taught only as a secret oral tradition.  The leadership of the society hopes to change the minds of those threatened by their presence and hopes telling the true story of the brutality of slavery can convince the white population of Greater Malleus to realize the only true path to freedom is universal freedom.

Brave abolitionist, ghetto fighter, shocking socialite, unbroken slave, unseen servant.

Belle: Dido Elizabeth Belle
Casanova (2005 TV series): Rocco
Roots: Kunta Kinte, Fiddler, and Kizzy
Roots: The Gift: Cletus Moyer
Swashbuckler: Cudjo Quadrill and Nick Debrett

Benefits of Membership

Ananzi’s Web can rarely provide much in the way of materiel or combat support to a cabal; the society is simply too limited in its resources to provide equipment or combatants.  It can, however, often provide advance word of vampires’ plans and help arrange distractions if breaking into mansions or disrupting social events are needed. Members of Ananzi’s Web receive the following bonus skills and Edge:
+1d4 Persuasion  
+1d4 Stealth  
Connections (Ananzi’s Web) Edge.  The Afari quarters in Hammerstadt and Brustlager are avoided by non-Afari at night and can serve as excellent places for cabals to hide when the authorities know their names and faces.  Ananzi’s Web can often provide help in escaping slaveholding estates and plantations.

Example Characters

Ghetto Fighter (Novice)
This laughing madwoman is known, feared, and admired throughout the city’s slums. 

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.

Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6, Throwing d8.

Charisma: +0 Pace: 6 Parry: 6 Toughness: 5

Hindrances: Wanted [Major; escaped slave], Bad Eyes [Minor], Poverty [Minor]

Edges: Acrobat, Connections (Ananzi’s Web), Quick Draw

Gear:  bandolier with 10 daggers (Range: 3/6/12, Str+d4, RoF 1), much-mended normal clothing, spectacles.

Unseen Servant
Passing unseen as a “mere slave” in high society, this Obeah sorcerer is placed to wreak havoc.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.

Skills: Fighting d6, Investigation d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Spellcasting d6, Stealth d6, Streetwise d8.

Charisma: -2 Pace: 6 Parry: 6 Toughness: 5

Hindrances: Slave [Major], Cautious [Minor], Enemy [Minor; a cruel overseer or suspicious slave hunter]

Edges: AB: Magic (Obeah), Connections (Ananzi’s Web), Investigator

Gear:  dagger (Range: 3/6/12, Str+d4, RoF 1), formal clothes, staff (Str+d4, Parry +1, Reach 1, 2 hands), 15 reichsmarks in savings to buy his freedom.

Special Abilities:
Power Points: 10.
Powers: entangle (either a literal spider web or a web of words), speak language (a murmured multi-lingual singsong phrase), wall walker (spider-like scopulae sprout from fingers and toes) 


New Hindrance

Slave [Major]
This hero is someone else’s property under the laws of Malleus.  Whether the character’s owner is a fellow player character or a malicious vampire is immaterial; the hero has no rights under Mallean law.  She receives only half the usual starting funds (though, unlike with Poverty, does not halve her funds every week) and suffers from a -2 to Charisma (as with Outsider).  In addition, the hero may be sold, tortured, and even killed at her owner’s whim.  If the character escapes slavery, she may trade this Hindrance for Wanted [Major] and if granted her freedom, may trade it for any two Minor Hindrances. 


I could just cover this up.  I could just pretend I had this in The King is Dead the entire time, but I won't.  

My original plan with The King is Dead was to simply avoid the issue of the African slave trade altogether. I was going to engage in a bit of what TV Tropes calls Fix Fic and simply have it be that the pseudo-Africans had managed to fight off the pseudo-Europeans and the slave trade never happened in my world. That plan failed during the first playtest, when Robin and I realized that the Colonies just didn't feel right without the horrible specter of slavery looming over all the talk of freedom and equality.

It was fake, in a way that vampire aristocrats and magic powers weren't.

So the grim, unpleasant history of America forced its way back into the narrative of my imaginary world of vampire-killing, and then I promptly forgot to address it.  I had a secret society for women's rights, a secret society for Irish and Scottish rights, and even the X-Men, and I didn't even think to put in an abolitionist society, let alone one headed by Africans.

And -- dammit! -- I had a book of Anansi stories as a kid.  I grew up admiring James Earl Jones' and (especially) Geoffrey Holder's characters in Swashbuckler.  My step-father (with whom I had an admittedly strained and brief relationship; he came into my life when I was twenty, moved himself and my mom halfway across the country, and died when I was in my mid-20s) was Haitian. I have no excuse.

I have no excuse, so I offer this as mere apology.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The King is Dead: Self-Empowerment

Dang it, I just keep making work for myself.

As readers of this blog should be well aware, I’ve spent most of the last year developing a setting called The King is Dead with an eye toward marketing it for Savage Worlds.  It takes place in a quasi-18th century world where the middle and lower clases are rising up to overthrow a literally vampiric aristocracy.  All of the player characters belong to secret societies -- inspired by such examples as the Bavarian Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, and the Sons of Liberty – that are conspiring together to stage the revolution.

Early on, I decided that one of the societies should be explicitly feminist.  While the Bavarian Illuminati believed in equal rights and education for women, they were still a male organization and their in-game equivalent was always going to wind up looking like a bunch of white guys in periwigs sitting around talking a bigger game than they actually played.  It always seemed important to me that there be a secret society by women for women in order to keep women’s rights front and center in the game’s themes.

Unfortunately, writing that society has always given me trouble.

Since the Freemasons and Illuminati are popularly associated with Hermetic magic, it made sense to me to contrast the feminist society with the Illuminati stand-ins by associating them with an “opposing” kind of magic.  In tabletop RPGs, the opposite of wizardly magic has almost always been clerical magic, so I decided the feminist group would be defined in terms of religion.

It seemed like a good idea, but it’s led to revision after revision of the group and their name.  They were originally the Sorority of Belquis (after the Queen of Sheba, described in Islamic texts as a wise and powerful woman), then the Circle of Isis (because explaining how a quasi-English cabal came to be named after a Middle Eastern figure seemed overly complex, but referring back to the popularity of the Isis cult in Roman times seemed much easier), and then the Society of Minerva (in reference to both the goddess and the 18th century publishing house, Minerva Press).  Throughout these revisions, I’ve always had to shoehorn in explanations for why these thoroughly modern women were looking to the goddesses of the past.

I don’t hate the concept – in fact, I’d really prefer that I didn’t have to throw it out and rewrite 4 or 5 pages of text – but I just haven't felt confident it.  It's always felt off.  I've always worried that – for lack of a better word – it’s too witchy. 

I recently realized that the Blue Stocking Society – an honest-to-goodness early feminist organization – existed in the mid-18th century.  I’m used to the term “bluestocking” from Regency romance novels (where it is invariably an insult, and, yes, I read Regency romance novels) and never really thought about where it originated.  It occurred to me that modeling the feminist society more specifically on this historical original would be a good idea.

Savage Worlds offers five core types of “magic:” wizardly magic, clerical miracles, psionics or psychic powers, super powers, and weird science.  Throughout the development of The King is Dead, I’ve always had psychic powers assigned to a Fenian/Jacobite Celtic society in homage to the Highlander films and the tradition of the second sight amongst the Celts.  It has, honestly, always been an awkward fit because of the way psionics work in Savage Worlds, and I’ve often considered ditching that connection in order to link the pseudo-Celts to a pseudo-Druidism in order to emphasize the religious divisions that have long existed in the British Isles.

(Just to clarify for those coming in late, the state religion of the vampire-dominated society is a Satanic high church comparable to Anglicanism or Catholicism.)

If I change the psedo-Celts to pseudo-Druids, then that would free up psionics for use by the Bluestocking Society.  This appeals to me because psychic powers have long been framed as at least a pseudo-science; this then makes the Bluestocking Society scientists.  It makes them innovators.  It makes them dedicated to progress.
It makes them (literally) self-empowered.
As much extra work as it causes me, I feel better about this already.  A society dedicated to teaching women to overcome their problems through the force of their own minds and wills?  That's a metaphor that works!
(And, yeah, it's a bit Golden Age Wonder Woman and a little bit Bene Gesserit, but those are comparisons I am way more happy to make.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The King is Dead: New Trapping -- Vehicle

One of the challenges I decided to tackle in The King is Dead was to find a way of allowing Weird Scientists to invent some honest-to-goodness new technologies without bolting on new rules to the sleek Arcane Backgrounds rules of Savage Worlds.  I finally cracked it.  The solution: trappings!

New Trapping

One goal of the Zunft von Hohenheim is to bring mankind closer together by providing faster and safer means of transportation.  The vehicle trapping can only be applied to the powers burrow, environmental protection, fly, and speed.  The trapping allows a vehicle (boat, carriage, hot air balloon, locomotive) to take advantage of the power for a number of hours equal to the usual duration (plus any extra from additional Power Points).  If the power allows for additional targets, those passengers must be taken into account when the device is built.  A submersible ship might be built with the environmental protection power to allow the passengers to survive underwater or a hot air balloon might have wings and a rotor attached to allow it to fly with more control over its speed and destination.

Example: Dr. Kendra Jackman builds an auto-propelled balloon.  She is a Veteran Weird Scientist with 15 Power Points.  The basic cost of fly is 3 Power Points; Dr. Jackman wishes to include the rest of her cabal on his voyages, so she pays 5 points for additional targets and doubles the balloon’s speed from 6” to 12” for 3 points.  She has now spent 11 Power Points, so adding in her remaining points for a total of 15 Power Points allows the balloon to fly with a crew of 6 for 7 hours at a speed of 4 miles per hour without the aid of the wind.

Victorian Adventure Wishlist

Ok, this is technically Edwardian, but you get the idea.

Sometimes this blog is a notepad, a place where I can jot down thoughts and characters I want to use.  This is one of those posts...

Robin and I just started a Victorian adventure campaign starring archaeologist (and occultist) Lady Atalanta Scarborough, and there’s a few things I’d like to hit:

  • Quincey P. Morris, vampire cowboy
  • Dracula (duh)
  • Young Dr. Henry Jones (Sr.)
  • Sherlock Holmes references but no appearances by the Great Detective himself (he’d be too insufferable); maybe Sebastian Moran, but not Moriarty; maybe Sherlock Holmes’ other brother (not Mycroft, it would be the theoretical third brother who inherited their father’s estates); definitely Lestrade.
  • A lost world story; I could actually tie this into the TimeBomb concept from MKST!!!, and come up with a pseudo-plausible explanation for cave men and dinosaurs.  Should I do Pleistocene mammals and dinosaurs together, or separately?  Separately, obviously.  With the Time Bomb, there's no reason to limit ourselves to one lost world.
  • A "wild man" in the Mowgli/Tarzan tradition, but a pastiche instead of one of those two, so I can work in my own wacky ideas.  What if the ape-man was literally half-ape (with the caveat, of course, that the apes aren't literally apes but rather shaggy hominids)?  He would still probably look a lot like Christopher Lambert...
  • Ruritania!  We've never touched on anything like the Ruritania plot in all our years of gaming.  (And then it turns out all the crowned heads of Eastern Europe are foreign imposters.)
  • A Fu Manchu pastiche more in line with the sympathetic model of Planetary's Hark (though I've always sympathized greatly with Fu Manchu).
  • Myōjin Yahiko, master of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, and Lady Snowblood.  Or not.  I have to try to keep Robin's character in the foreground; I'm running a game, not writing fan fiction.  Pastiche!  Pastiche! Pastiche!
  • "Zorro Jr."  Damn it, there I go again.
  • El Dorado.  I've got to find some excuse to get Lady Atalanta to the U.S..  Maybe lost Viking colonies, too?
  • Atlantis, but in a down-played, subtle way.
  • Werewolves 
  • Zenith the Albino
Edited to add:

Does 1890s Henry Jones look like:

The Great Train Robbery


Darby O'Gill and the Little People?


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Juggling Act

The Flying Karamozov Brothers live!

I may be overextending myself.

I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.  It’s incredibly gratifying – I don’t think I’ve ever been in demand like this, either as a writer or a person – but I am having to learn new time-management skills.  I beg the indulgence of all of those who are relying on me.

Summer is a surprisingly busy time for me.  Between work and family, there’s a heckuva lot to do.  With luck, the early autumn lull at work and the beginning of the school year will free up some time.

Happy Wife, Happy Life

My top priority at all times in my life must be my lovely, indulgent wife, +Robin English-Bircher.  We’re both kind of estranged from our families and don’t have any children, so we rely on each other with an intensity usually found only in newlyweds.  I don’t like getting too personal on Wine and Savages, but there’ve been some annoying setbacks around here this summer, and sometimes we really, really have to go to the Texas hill Country for our mental health.  We have friends in the wine industry up there, and sometimes you really have to go “where everyone knows your name” (as they sang on Cheers). 

I an addition, of course, Robin writes for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine, Lifestyle of Comanche Trace, and her own wonderful blog, Vitis Poema.  If she’s going to support my writing, then it’s only fair I support hers, and that sometimes means prioritizing going on behind-the-scenes tours of wineries over writing about elfgames.  (Oh, the horror!)


  • The #1 priority here is obviously The King is Dead.  I am so close to finishing the initial player packet (that I think I’m going to instead call the Primer) that I am sorely tempted to go without sleep.  Once I finish the oh-so-close-to-done text, I need to figure out a stopgap for my lack of proper desktop publishing software, insert some clip art, and get this off to Pinnacle so I can get approved as a licensee.  I think I’ll release it as a pay-what-you-want product on DrivethruRPG; I feel pretty confident in the new rules and Edges, so I’d be happy to just get it out there and start drumming up publicity (and a little bit of cash).
  • The #2 priority is Steamscapes: Asia (since I will actually get paid for that), but +Eric Simon  has assured me that I’m a little ahead on things there.  When it comes time to ramp up production, I’m going to have some fun “research” materials to watch; Hulu has recently added Ryomaden, a live-action drama about Meiji revolutionary Ryoma Sakamoto, and Samurai Jam: Bakumatsu Rock, a completely absurd anime about the same guy that casts him as an anachronistic rebel rock star.
  • Meanwhile, +David Larkins, +David Schimpff, and I have been kicking around ideas to develop Miyamoto Academy Combatters into a full setting.  Work on The King is Dead has kept me from keeping up with this as much as I might like for the last couple of weeks; I probably need to set a schedule where I split writing time between the projects.
  • Similarly, +Charles Akins has organized what promises to be a fun little round-robin blog thing.  I’m not sure what I’m allowed to share about it, but that should appear in mid-September.
  • Finally, has anyone heard about the plans for the next +Savage Insider?  I’m really looking forward to writing something for that, and am champing at the bit to find out what the theme will be.


  • Duet gaming is, as always, an important part my marriage; it is, in the end, part and parcel of “Happy Wife, Happy Life.”  Princess Errant crashed and burned, a victim to the juggling act I’ve gotten myself involved in.  Making up a whimsical fantasy world on the fly was too much work, so we’re paring things back to a Victorian adventure setting.  That should be a lot easier to do; I can not only draw on my own knowledge of Victorian adventure fiction, but also Gaslight, Rippers, and the old Pulp GM’s Toolkit.  (Somebody remind me to write up my version of Quincey P. Morris, vampire cowboy.)
  • I also belong to a local gaming Meetup, the San Antonio Sci-Fi/Fantasy RPG Gaming Guild.  For the first time in my nearly 41 years, I’m getting to be a player in someone else’s game.  Right now, the only campaign I’ve been able to commit to is a wacky Ravenloft/World of Darkness: Dark Ages mash-up GM’d by +Alan Vannes   Well, I’m not sure it was meant to be wacky, but it’s gotten that way since my character got involved.  (I may just be a terrible player; I’m not sure yet.)  Every game is a milestone for me, as I had literally never played a PC for two consecutive sessions before this campaign.
  • Unfortunately, that all means that I’ve had very little time to develop the mecha/kaiju campaign I’m hoping to start with fellow local Savage +Curt Meyer.  The need to stick closer to home now that Robin’s back at work might free up some time for that, but I also need to get a The King is Dead game going once The King is Dead Primer is complete.  Maybe I can also conflate some campaign prep with an article somewhere or find some other way to monetize it; that would really help justify the time.  Thankfully, some other members of the Meetup have expressed interest.
Man, being popular is tough work.  J

Friday, August 22, 2014

The King is Dead: PC Dhampyres

I realized I was being racist.

I want vampires in The King is Dead to be able to have actual children of their own loins as a way of explaining why they would form noble families and therefore behave in most ways like the old European nobility.  I also want some “monsters” in the setting who are somewhat less dangerous than vampires themselves.  Thus, vampires in The King is Dead can sire dhampyres (formerly dunpeals) – blood-drinking daywalkers gifted with increased strength, rapid healing, and superior night vision.
I also want there to be no ambiguity in the righteousness of slaying vampires, thus allowing players to indulge in some of the excesses of the French Revolution without any moral qualms.  Therefore, vampirism in The King is Dead is a choice.  When a vampire accepts the Gift of Sathaniel, he receives a vision of The King of the World in which Sathaniel lays out – plainly and honestly – that becoming a vampire means becoming a predator of mankind, it means becoming a murderer and beast, it means selling your soul and becoming a monster.

Obviously, a fetus in the womb cannot make a contract with Sathaniel.  A dhampyre might be born with the same thirst for blood as its father, but it never makes a conscious choice to become a monster.  Raised in a torturous mix of privilege and abuse, taught from the earliest age that vampires are superior beings and that a dhampyre’s very reason to exist is to serve its father until it becomes a vampire itself, it is inevitable that most dhampyres will eventually choose to make a pact with Sathaniel.  It is inevitable that most dhampyres will choose to become monsters, but they are not born that way.

I realized I was being racist by casting all dhampyres as bad guys, by denying players the chance to play dhampyres who chose to rebel against their rearing.  I was choosing Nature over Nurture, and that’s not what I believe in.

So dhampyres are now a playable race in The King is Dead.  Enjoy!    

Dhampyre (homo sapiens sanguinus)

Dhampyres are born when a vampire deflowers a human maiden.  Bringing a dhampyre child to term is difficult and requires regular feeding on vampire blood; because of this, the vast majority of dhampyres are nobility, born and bred to carry on their ancestors’ bloodlines.  Vampires made from dhampyres are more likely to inherit their sires’ same powers (rather than spontaneously mutating) so the vampire houses of Malleus breed themselves as carefully as hunting dogs and horses.

Raised amidst the selfish and violent world of vampires, most dhampyres become just as cruel and psychotic as their parents.  They are, however, born with free will and are not inherently monsters.  Some few dhampyres have seen the value of a world of equality and freedom and joined the revolution, but it is difficult for dhampyres to rise above their brutal origins.

When a woman is impregnated by a vampire, she must endure nine months of illness and pain.  The unborn child constantly feeds on its mother’s own blood, and so the mother must imbibe regular quantities of fresh (or preferably vampire) blood in order to not be devoured by the fetus.  Many noblewomen enduring a dhampyre pregnancy are practically confined to their beds for the duration, and most wind up as hopeless thralls afterward.  Commoners with inconvenient dhampyre bastards are often left to die.

Once born, the infant dhampyre is a bloodthirsty beast.  Most are tightly swaddled to prevent them from attacking the household, and many are chained or caged until they can begin to control their hunger around the age of five.  They live in darkened isolation for much of their childhoods, cut off from interaction with any who are not servants of family because of their inhuman strength and appetite.  Dhampyres in their teens have usually gained control over their bloodthirst, and begin to be introduced into proper society.

A dhampyre’s “coming out” is when life changes radically for male and female dhampyres.  Male dhampyres go off to boarding schools and university, are taught the skills to act as their fathers’ daylight agents, and become the most sought-after bachelors in Hammerstadt.  Female dhampyres – practically incapable of having children of their own due to their own bodies’ bloodthirst, and therefore politically worthless – are sent to convents where they will become “brides of Sathaniel” in honor of Salome, the princess who was given the Gift of Sathaniel in order to give it to mankind.

Many male dhampyres will eventually be given the Gift of Sathaniel themselves, but female dhampyres are rarely elevated to unlife.  Some rare nuns achieve political power as abbesses and some rare dhampyre noblewomen find themselves (by happenstance or intrigue) as the sole heirs of their families, but for most female dhampyres life is one form of imprisonment after another.  

Dhampyre Racial Traits
  • The Blood is the Life: While dhampyres lack the astonishing regenerative abilities of vampires, they may make a natural Healing roll once per day (instead of once per week) on any day in which they feed on fresh blood.
  • Feed: Dhampyres must drink at least a pint of fresh blood per day, just like their vampire fathers.  This is treated in most ways as the Habit [Major] Hindrance, but cannot be bought off.  A dhampyre Exhausted by going without blood may make a Spirit roll at -2; if successful, the player may choose to have the dhampyre simply perish of starvation, but if the roll is failed, the character goes Berserk (as per the Edge) and will hunt friend and foe alike until its bloodthirst is sated.
  • Long-Lived: Dhampyres do not begin to feel the effects of old age until they are 150 years old; many live naturally into the low 200s.
  • Low-Light Vision: Dhampyres ignore penalties for bad lighting in all but pitch-black conditions.
  • Outsider: Dhampyres are distrusted by humans and seen as servants (at best) by vampires.  They suffer a -2 modifier to Charisma amongst all but their fellow dhampyres.
  • Strength of the (Half-)Dead: Dhampyre player characters start with a d6 in Strength rather than a d4.
  • Weakness (Sunlight): Dhampyre eyes are sensitive to the sun.  They suffer a -2 penalty to all tasks while in sunlight unless wearing dark glasses.

New Edge

Mark of the Beast
Requirements: Background, dhampyre or Noble

The vampire heritage is strong in this hero. The character’s fingernails grow into graceful but dangerous claws and her teeth are wicked fangs. Her unarmed attacks cause Str+d4 damage and she may bite a grappled foe for the same. Such obvious signs of vampiric ancestry will unnerve those in the rebellion who already distrust you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Creepy Housekeeper (Gothic Tropes NPC)

Now that I feel greatly rejuvenated after a fantastically productive block of writing on The King is Dead yesterday, I feel I can finally return to sharing some of the work on that setting on the blog.  I'm going to start a series of posts taking Gothic archetypes (courtesy of TV Tropes) and stat them up for The King is Dead's somewhat truncated version of the Savage Worlds Skill list.  Keep in mind that The King is Dead is an action-horror setting, and so Guts and Sanity are not used; GMs wishing to work these archetypes into a more traditionally terrifying setting may wish to add those Setting Rules.
Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca

"Ever found yourself at a huge mansion in the middle of a torrential rainstorm? Chances are the door was opened to you by a Creepy Housekeeper. This character spends much of her time walking around a large manor house cleaning, cooking, being fanatically devoted to her master, and scaring off any new female inhabitants of the house. Although she often welcomes hapless visitors, chances are they will be either murdered or scared off by the end of a terrifying night. She will be common in murder mysteries/tales of the supernatural, although often subverted for comedy."

Creepy Housekeeper
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Healing d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Profession – Housekeeper) d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d4, Survival d, Taunt d6
Charisma: -2 Pace: 2 Parry: 6 Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Curious [Major], Loyal [Minor], Mean [Minor].
Edges: Alertness
Gear: Dour black garments, hairpin (Str+1), key ring with more keys than there are doors in the house.

Gerda Mortenson

Seasoned Wild Card

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d8,* Vigor d8*

Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d4, Intimidation d8, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Profession –Housekeeper) d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6

Charisma: -2 Pace: 4 Parry: 6 Toughness: 6

Hindrances: Curious [Major], Loyal [Minor], Mean [Minor].
Edges: Alertness, Strong Willed

Gear: Prim black garments, key ring, riding crop (Str+d4-2, cost $25 - $100, weight 1 lb, +2 to hit, +1 to Intimidation & Riding, AP -2).

Gerda Mortenson has effectively been the mistress of the remote estate of Greyholme – ancestral hall of the Greystorm line of the Blut von Heinrich – for two decades.  Thrall to the Count von Greystorm since her teens, she thinks of their relationship in far more intimate terms than does her master.  She is possessive of the manor house and its staff, and is alarmed by the arrival of the count’s dhampyre son; the savage child she whipped into submission is now a a grown man who will not brook her interference in his rights.
*+1d for thrall status.

(Thralls were formerly known as moroi.)