The King is Dead: STRIGOI (SPOILERS)
So, yeah... I'm publishing my notes for the upcoming Chupacabracon games as blog posts. At least that way I don't have to worry about misplacing materials!
SPOILERS FOR STRIGOI SPECIFICALLY AND THE KING IN DEAD IN GENERAL FOLLOW
When King Wilhelm the Undying and his sons first conquered Malleus, they were young vampires – not even old enough to have outlasted their mortal lives. They rode into battle with their men, conquering through force of arms and fangs. As the centuries passed, however, they learned subtler methods of influencing battle.
They directed their will through their bloodlines, seeing through the eyes of those to whom they had given the Gift of Sathaniel. Generations of vampires and their thralls fought with one indomitable will. Now, with the discovery of the Sanguinem Maledicta, the revolutionaries of Malleus stand a chance of shattering the armies of their enemies and freeing their homeland from vampire rule.
Perfectum Sanguinem Maledicta
Power Points: 20 (20/generation)
Range: ½ Smarts
Trappings: heaven-piercing pillar of light visible for miles
The Perfectum Sanguinem Maledicta (“perfected curse of the blood”) allows the caster to burn away the essence of Sathaniel that germinates in a vampire, destroying that vampire and every vampire that vampire personally sired. For every additional 20 Power Points spent in casting the curse, the next generation of vampires after that is destroyed.
The vampires of Malleus breed carefully, preserving the strength of their bloodlines by selectively passing on the Gift of Sathaniel to carefully-chosen descendants. All told, roughly nine generations of vampires currently call Malleus home: the king, his sons, and seven generations of the prince’s descendants. If the players could cast the perfectum sanguine maledicta on the king himself – and spend 160 Power Points doing so – they could wipe out every vampire in Malleus; given how carefully King Wilhelm is protected, hidden away at Sownfields Palace, spending 140 Power Points to wipe out a single prince and almost a quarter of the vampires in the whole nation seems like a safer bet.
As occultists understand it, the spell seems to pull power down from some source in the heavens – possibly the divine might of the Unseen Creator itself, but also possibly something stranger like the collective will of humanity. In any case, the shaft of silvery light created when the ritual is cast is unmistakable and visible for miles. Vampires instinctually know what’s happening (warned, perhaps, by the shard of Sathaniel that lives in their hearts) and seek out the casters to stop them.
The Perfectum Sanguinem Maledicta takes five actions as a ritual, with each action (thankfully) taking no more than a combat round.
By casting the spell as a ritual, the caster may:
- Double their Power Points – every Power Point spent counts as 2 (the recommended choice)
- Extend the Range – the caster may either double the range or increase it (Smarts x miles) by making their arcane rolls at -4 (not recommended)
Extra preparation and assistance can provide the following benefits:
- Additional casters with Arcane Backgrounds may make cooperative rolls to help every action; these casters may also contribute Power Points, getting the same benefit of doubling their points if that option is chosen.
- Participants without Arcane Backgrounds may make cooperative rolls to help by rolling Knowledge (Occult) at -2 (or with no penalty if they have the Qabbalist Edge).
- Extending the time needed to cast the ritual from five to eight actions gives a +1 bonus to rolls; extending it to ten actions gives a +2 bonus.
- Sacrificing the living or the undying can contribute extra Power Points; sacrificing animals provides half their Vigor in Power Points, sacrificing humans provides the greater of either their Spirit or Vigor in Power Points, and sacrificing vampires or moroi with Blood Sorcery adds their current Power Point total. The vampire on whom the Perfectum Sanguinem Maledicta is being cast does not count as a sacrifice.
The final roll of a ritual must be cast by the primary spellcaster alone. If they fail this roll, the entire spell is undone and terrible consequences can befall the caster and those nearby.
The revolutionary high command has identified Prince Rickard the Wolfheart as the most important target for the Perfectum Sanguinem Maledicta. It’s believed that the vampires aren’t yet aware that the revolution possesses the full spell, but using it even once will reveal it without question. Prince Rickard’s bloodline makes up the majority of the royal Mallean military’s leadership, so slaying him and wiping away his bloodline will cripple the military. Unfortunately, most of the field officers are of younger generations, so it’s important to cast the spell with as much potency as possible.
The heroes – as the restorers of the full spell – have been assigned to cast it. Unless they want to seriously risk failure, they’re going to need to get physically near the prince. That probably means infiltrating Wolfshead Hall, Prince Rickard’s country estate with his private domain. The revolutionary leadership will keep him pinned down there by launching a full military strike, drawing the local troops into battle and (hopefully) engaging the prince’s will as he commands his troops from afar.
Before the battle, the heroes may attempt to capture other blooddrinkers to use as sacrifices, but this obviously has its drawbacks. Actual vampires can’t be knocked out for very long, and the only way to keep them in any kind of stupor is to feed them drug- or alcohol-laced wine – which they would refuse to drink unless it comes directly from a human’s veins. For that matter, if they are sorcerers, they’re likely to use their powers to try to escape. Moroi can be incapacitated longer, but they’re also still living humans, more or less.
The vampires will try to force the Mass Battle to begin at night. They aren’t particularly better armed or trained than the revolutionaries (most of whom are Mallean army deserters) but they do outnumber them and they get the +2 morale bonus for undead (even though the soldiers technically aren’t, the undead leadership gives them this advantage). The revolutionaries have seven blue tokens, and the vampires have ten red tokens.
Abruptly, the skirling of bagpipes sounds far away. Revolutionary lookouts report the arrival of a third army – Clan O’Naill highlanders – approach. The highlanders are led by the O’Naill himself, a paunchy old bastard who demands the revolution support his claim to kingship if they want his army. He has three green tokens, offering the heroes the chance to even the odds.
An impassioned Social Conflict on the part of the heroes could possibly lead the O’Naill soldiers to abandon their pretender to the throne and fight for democracy – but it might mean promising Lochland and Clavus independence from Mallean rule. In any case, the players should have a go at diplomacy.
The first roll of the Mass Battle is fought, distracting the enemy from the heroes’ true objective.
The next step is sneaking through enemy lines to get near Wolfshead Hall (a Dramatic Task). This is a fairly lengthy journey, so the next roll of the Mass Battle occurs.
Once there, they have to fight or sneak their way past Rickard’s bodyguards and minions to where he lurks, sending his will out to empower his army. Depending on how well the heroes acquit themselves, another roll of the Mass Battle may or may not be called for now. If they’ve somehow approached very sneakily, Rickard has no time to muster his army for another push.
The confrontation with Rickard presumably occurs. If the heroes have for some reason chosen to strike from a distance (which presumably means sacrifices) then they have a few rounds from when they begin the ritual to when Rickard shows up in Hellhound form and attacks. If they approached very stealthily, they find him in his study. If they messily murdered their way through the manor, then he’s gone down to his crypt and awaits them there.
(They might want to actually trick him into hiding in the crypt and then casting the spell from the floor upstairs, just to give themselves some more time.)
The final parts of the Mass Battle are rolled after the heroes either destroy Rickard or are killed. If they beat him, then the vampires’ leadership is gone and their Knowledge (Battle) rolls take a serious turn for the worse. Otherwise, the revolutionaries still have a chance to destroy the vampire army before and send the prince packing. Of course, he could also storm into battle himself, really causing problems for the revolution.