The King is Dead

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The King is Dead: Vargr

I'm still amazed Gevaudan put up this statue.
However much the Holy Panoptic Church may extol the transcendence of the undead state, the simple fact is that vampires are predators. They are wolves who have skinned the shepherds rather than the sheep, and now carry the shepherds’ crooks to herd their prey to slaughter.

Some wolves, however, are rabid.

Once in a blood moon, a savaged, drained body is found in some unexpected place. Perhaps a shepherdess is slain while breeding her flock home for the night; it would seem like a wolf attack, but something has drunk her blood. No local vampire or admits to the deed and all the dhampirs have alibis. The community is all aflutter for a week or two, but then everyone begins to calm down.

And there’s another murder. 

And then another. 

And now an entire family has been slain in their remote farmstead home; from the youngest child to the old grand-dam, they’ve been torn apart and their blood lapped off the floorboards. The family pets and livestock that couldn’t escape have all been slaughtered, too. This cannot be the work of a vampire, because no vampire would stoop so low as to drink the blood of animals.

Then one old man – one-eyed and hard of hearing, known to mumble to himself at odd times – whispers the word “vargr.” 

Vargar (singular vargr) are blood-drinkers who have lost their minds to bloodlust. Some are moroi whose addiction to vampire blood has devolved into cannibalism, others are feral dhampir children unable to control their hunger, and others are monstrous vampires who have abandoned any pretense to civility. Regardless of origin, a vargr loose on the countryside is a threat to both innocent lives and the social order – and one of the few times that the aims of revolutionaries and vampires intersect.

A cabal whose territory is threatened by a vargr find themselves between a rock and hard place. Allowing a vargr to slaughter indiscriminately violates the ethos every secret society is fighting for, but the local vampires will also organize a hunt for the feral blood-drinker. Joining the hunt risks exposing the cabal’s capabilities to unwanted vampiric attention. 

Vargar are an embarrassment to the vampire aristocracy of Malleus, and writing about such creatures is suppressed by the Lord High Censor’s office. Common folk are forbidden from speaking about such creatures and books about them are burned. Researching vargar the first time a cabal confronts one is a five-action Dramatic Task using Investigation at a -4 penalty with each action taking one day of game time. Cooperating characters may use other skills such as Knowledge (Occult), Riding (traveling to nearby towns and villages for additional research materials), and Streetwise to aid the main investigator; the GM makes the final ruling on what skills are applicable in a particular case. If the lead researcher’s Action Card is a club, the vargr slays another victim that night; if it’s the two of clubs, the vargr kills a friend or ally of the cabal.

Success means the cabal has identified the unknown menace as a vargr. They know such beasts are mad blood-drinkers and that the creature will have the regenerative powers and inhuman vitality typical of blood-drinkers. They learn that vargar may be moroi, dhampirs, or vampires, but they cannot identify which type this vargr is. Additional successes beyond the minimum of five reveal the vargr’s origin (one success is needed to identify a moroi, two for a dhampir, and three for a vampire) or reveal one of the vargr’s powers.
 

Vargr (Moroi)   
A cannibalistic madman driven by hunger beyond his control, the moroi vargr retains an essentially human appearance but gains animalistic senses. The descent into vargr-madness can be slow, and moroi of exceptional willpower may even be able to retain their normal lives while sneaking forth at night to devour their fellow men. Most, though, are transformed into ragged vagrants, lurking in the woods to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Without feeding on vampire or dhampir blood, the vargr moroi loses his powers in 30+2d20 days and slips into a coma.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d12, Vigor d12
Skills: Fighting d10, Intimidation d8, Notice d10, Stealth d10, Survival d10, Throwing d8
Charisma: -4; Pace: 8; Parry: 7; Toughness: 9
Hindrances: Habit [Major; blood addict]
Edges: Alertness, Berserker, Brawny, Improved Frenzy, Combat Reflexes, Fleet Footed, Quick
Special Abilities:
  • Bite: When the vargr moroi has a victim grappled, it may bite for Str+d4 damage.
  • Claws: The corrupting power of vampire blood gives the vargr claws that do Str+d4 damage.
  • Fast Regeneration
  • Weakness [Sever the Head]: If the blood-drinker is incapacitated by a Called Shot to the head, its head is severed and its regeneration disrupted. 
  • Weakness [Stake to the Heart]: Disrupting the flow of blood through the body with a Called Shot to the heart renders the blood-drinker immobile.
  • Weakness [Sunlight]: The moroi is at -4 on all physical actions taken in direct sunlight.
   

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