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Monday, March 10, 2014

The King is Dead: Recent Revelations from Actual Play


The first The King is Dead duet campaign with Robin was about a half-Cruthin (Native American) Hawkeye-type going all Assassin's Creed on invading redcoats before taking the fight to Hammerstadt.  The current campaign is about a human aristocrat caught between the temptation of vampirism and the abuse of her gender.  Some recent discoveries about the world include:

A Neo-Gothic poseur.  (Actually, I love Oldman's Dracula.)
  • Vampires have secret societies too!  The Neo-Gothic Society is a gentlemen’s club in Hammerstadt’s equivalent of St. James that fronts itself as a literary society of young vampires obsessed with ages past.  They write poetry extolling the virtues of the early Gothic vampire leaders like Emperor Etzel and Karlo the Great, wear their hair long and unpowdered, and sport unfashionable beards and moustaches.  In truth, they’re a bunch of viciously ambitious junior heirs who worship Etzel because he had the balls to cut off King Hordos’ head and stop taking orders from his sire.  Their goal is to return the world to a proper “state of nature” where only the strong survive and life for humans is nasty, brutish, and short.
  • The Church of Sathaniel has an Inquisition that would rather see political power in the hands of vampire priests than vampire nobles.
  • I already knew Dracula was lurking around Hammerstadt as a king in exile, but Elizabeth Bathory is there too (but she might actually be Salome – the true first vampire – in disguise).
  • Theological questions have been resolved!  There’s no denying that vampires are supernatural beings – their powers are just too weird to be pseudo-scientific despite what the Blade franchise might think – but unless I want to trap the PCs in the grimness of a Lovecraftian universe, then supernatural evil presupposes the existence of supernatural good.  So where has all the good gone?  My once-pagan, now-atheistic leanings can’t embrace accepting a Judeo-Christian worldview, so that means that the ancient pagan gods were real.  Where did they go?  They got killed; Sathaniel allied himself with the evil deities of the old religions and they overthrew the good gods.  Now Eris, Hecate, the Krampus, etc. are worshipped as saints in the Church of Sathaniel. 
  • The existence of such a cornucopia of gods also means that the Sorority of Belquis has a mystical side that worships the female incarnations of wisdom in a sort-of feminist Gnosticism.  Also, they run Malleus’ equivalent of the Gothic novel publisher Minerva Press, where they disseminate feminist propaganda through the guise of supposedly moral tales of horror and rebellion.
  • I don’t have the book handy, but isn’t there a Power that allows for multiple turns in a round?  Quickness?  Yeah, a repeating crossbow is a Weird Science invention with that power.  A rifled musket has the aim Power.  Garlic-enhanced perfume has the confusion power (but only affects vampires).  Man, I’d rather let the players invent the cool gadgets than just have them on a shopping list (even if they just use the examples in the Powers section of the book-that-will-be).  Regular science is Weird Science in The King is Dead.

4 comments:

  1. I am gonna take exception to the idea that'evil pagan gods' one. Mostly just because from the way I understand, unlike Judeo Christian beliefs, no gods are 'evil' (like out and out EVIL), but merely the flip side of the coin ( at least from where I stand). The Spring/Winter motif, the passing of the old, and the endless cycle of death and rebirth (though this could also be a very santised modern telling of it)

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    1. I admittedly used "evil pagan gods" rather broadly; with the exception of a few figures like Eris/Discord, I'm mainly thinking of the opponents of the gods, like the Fomor and the Titans. Hades, for example, is not one of Sathaniel's friends (though Hecate might be out of revenge for the way she was maligned and debased by later Greek culture).

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  2. Good stuff. I hope vampire Bathory is just as bugnuts crazy as the real Bathory. It's what makes her fun (for an action-horror game).

    Can I make one picky comment that's completely aside from the point of your post? (I'm going to anyway.) The King is Dead takes place in a time analogous to the late 18th century, right? Rifling for firearms had been around a long time by then. Longer than the flintlock even. It wasn't really science at that point, just craftsmanship. Mounting a spyglass/scope on a musket might be a better trapping for a Weird Scientist using the Aim power.

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    1. I did not know that about rifling. Hmm...

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