The King is Dead

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.


6 comments:

  1. Magnificent. I have no further words only that I doff my imaginary tricorn.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I wanted to make sure they were interesting without overpowering humans.

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  2. You can't really be racist against dhampyres. They don't have real feelings like you or me.

    Honestly though, I think I do prefer my vampire-hunting RPGs with good guy day-walkers running around. Nice write up too. You've given female dhampyres good reason to sneak out at night to go a'staking.

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  3. Huh. My first post I'd caught of yours, very intriguing and dark. I guess I'm going to have to read more.

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