Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The King is Dead: Erzbet Mullins, Wild Child


Lina Leandersson in Let the Right One In

The "villain" of "Vargr," the second of four The King is Dead sessions I'll be running at GaMExpo!

***
 
As I’ve been revising and rethinking various The King is Dead materials over the last few weeks, I find myself incorporating bits and pieces I’ve learned from the non-Savage Worlds RPGs I’ve played and read over the last year. D&D 5e actually helped prompt the decision to include the Attitude information on the NPC descriptions, as well as giving me a bit more perspective on how to expand the roster of blood-drinking monsters in the setting. The Dracula Dossier – a supplement for Night’s Black Agents that I backed mainly for the expanded version of the novel included in the Kickstarter – put the idea of the Conspyramid in my head.

The conspyramid is basically a way of structuring a secret conspiracy of vampires along the shape of a pyramid scheme: lots of proles struggling at the bottom of the pyramid, leading up rank after rank to one dude sitting on the throne at the top. (Dracula in The Dracula Dossier’s case, but it could just as easily be Cobra Commander or Emperor Palpatine in a non-vampire game.) This doesn’t even need to be a conspiracy; you could just as easily have a villainpyramid based on a military dictatorship or evil corporation. You could have an orcpyramid.

The point of all of this, though, is that the natural shape of an organization – the stable shape for an organization – is a pyramid. The lesser builds inexorably to the greater. Foot soldiers build up to a commander-in-chief. The problem with earlier thoughts on blood-drinkers in Malleus, was that I’d built a conshourglass.

Well, maybe not an hourglass, but certainly some weird shape that narrowed in the middle before thickening out and then shrinking again.

A conspindle?

For various reasons that seemed good at the time, I’d decided that dhampirs were as rare as or rarer than vampires. Dhampirs could only be conceived on virgins and bringing them to term was incredibly difficult. Because vampires used marriages to cement political alliances, wives were kept for their normal lifetimes but could only produce a dhampir once. It was very weird and ultimately not useful.

Anyway, it makes better game design sense to have a larger population of dhampirs as a buffer between the humans and the vampires, so that's the way it is now.

***

Erzbet Mullins
Victim
 
Dhampirs in Malleus outnumber vampires by just shy of three to one. Most are aristocratic children pitted against each other in cruel games to prove their loyalty and earn the right to Sathaniel’s Gift, but more than a few are bastards begat upon commoners and slaves. These children often die young – or kill their mothers in the womb – unless their fathers sponsor the whelps. 
 
Erzbet Mullins is the natural child of Count Adalwulf von Stenzgard, the dhampir son of Marquis Lothar Eligos von Stenzgard, and his dhampir sister, the nun Mircalla von Stenzgard. Erzbet was spirited from the nunnery on the night of her birth and deposited with Greta Mullins, one of Adalwulf’s many conquests. Fed on a diet of animal blood – with occasional donations from her father – Erzbet grew to the age of thirteen relatively stable (for a dhampir), even developing into something of a child prodigy.
 
Count Adalwulf’s concern for the child waned precipitously over the years. While never doting, the count at least showed some parental feelings during the first five years of Erzie’s life (probably because of his perverse affection for his younger sister) but he has visited less and less as the child grew (and as her foster-mother aged from a buxom farmer’s daughter into a careworn harridan). In the last year, Adalwulf has even stopped sending money, leaving the Mullins family to sacrifice their own livestock to feed his child.
 
The count’s neglect of his progeny has led the Mullins family to neglect Erzbet. They increasingly blame the child for the family misfortunes; she is resented by her foster-parents, isolated from her foster-siblings, and frequently goes for days without blood. Unfortunately, this abuse coincides with her pubescence, a time when dhampirs rapidly begin developing their full preternatural abilities.
 
Greta’s decision to take Erzbet to confront her father at his townhome in Thornburg could not come at a worse time. Erzbet's hunger, fear, and anger consume her and transform her into a vargr.
 
Attitude: Erzbet is starving, and going mad from the rapid changes to her body. She behaves Helpfully to anyone who shows her kindness or promises her food, but in truth she is as Hostile as a rabid animal. 
Attributes: Agility d12, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d12+2, Vigor d12
Skills: Fighting d10, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Mathematics) d8, Knowledge (Music) d8, Notice d10, Stealth d10, Throwing d8
Charisma: +2 or -2; Pace: 8; Parry: 8; Toughness: 8
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Clueless, Habit [Major; blood addict] 
Edges: Alertness, Attractive, Berserker, Improved Extraction, Improved Frenzy, Improved Level Headed, 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.
 
 

4 comments:

  1. I've been cross-pollinating from other systems a bit myself as my crew have expressed a desire to revisit WFRP 2nd Ed after (mumble mumble) years away from it. Previously puzzling rules structures seem less hassle as if seems my Savage Worlds experience has allowed me to be concise and overlook a lot of stuff that seems less relevant.

    I think 'Attitude' is a great synopsis (or precis?) of the character and gives the reader an anchorpoint to start from.

    Again, I think The King Is Dead is a great setting and have really enjoyed the stuff you've written already. I for one would support a Kickstarter if you decide to go for it. All the best with this and your other projects. c.

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    1. Thanks! Expect some announcements soon!

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  2. Eek. This is one of those great villains that illustrates the setting very well. I imagine she'll be a hit. Very nice to see a neat plot like the victim turning into the monster being used. Very kewl.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Now that I'm doubling down on the horror in the setting, it's really starting to zing!

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