Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Player's Handbook 3

I wasn't originally going to pick up the 4th Edition Player's Handbook 3.   My DM is not using the new Hybrid rules and we both felt that the Skill Powers were neat as an idea, but not something either of us would use.  Plus I was not thrilled with any of the new races (we now have animal, vegetable and mineral) and two of the psionic classes.

But I am glad I picked it up.

The book is cool for a few things.  First off the Monk is just way cool.  The type of game that D&D 4 is now the monk just fits right in.  More so even that it did in any previous version of the game (especially 2nd Ed).  It has a different flavor than the 3.x monk.  Adding the Githzeri is just the icing on the cake there.  Can't wait to try out a Githzeri cenobite.  I will need to rework my whole "Monks are from Blackmoor" ideas.

I also like the inclusion of the Far Realm stuff as a reason for Psionics.  Right up my alley.  If the Far Realm is supposed to be the Cthulhoid alien/gods from Beyond then that is pretty awesome stuff.  Of course I do the same thing in my WitchCraft RPG games.  Plus the cool thing with this and the Githzeri is you can imagine the Githzeri on their lonely outposts fighting off the minions of the Far Realm/Mad Gods.  

The Hybrid stuff is still nice. Been doing that for a bit though. There are some nice ideas on good hybird choices.  Most is no brainer stuff, but still nice to see.  I am working on a Dragonborn Monk/Sorcerer hybrid now just to see how it works.

The Skill Powers are neater than I gave them credit for at first.  A nice way to customize each character.

There is still a lot here I am not going to use.  The Psionics stuff is neat, but I never liked to mix psionics and magic all that much.  The Minotaur are ok and since I just added Ansalon to my world I know where they come from now.  But in a world with Goliaths and Half-Orcs and Dragonborn the niche they fill is kind of taken.

I now count 25 classes (which includes the Assassin) and over 30 races (more if you get creative with the Monster Manuals).  That's a lot.  Maybe even too much.  I'll have to set some limits in my own 4e games.

The art is still fantastic and I only saw a couple of reused pieces.  More as I read more.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Layout

Playing around with the layout here.
Have a new section called "Pages" to the right.  ->
That is for more static pages and links.

I also added the old background image from my "The Other Side" website.  I like it. What do you all think?

Review: It Sucks to Be Me

Sucks to Be Me

Mina Hamilton is your ordinary 16 year old girl who has ordinary problems.  She is worried about her Chemistry test, whether she can get Nathan, the boy she has liked since forever to like her back, or even notice her, there is Prom coming up and oh yeah, her parents are bloodsucking undead creatures of the night. Well...an accountant and a middle-school teacher, but still undead.
Yeah, Mina's parents (an her weird uncle) are vampires.
And now she has to decide if she is going to become one too.
In a few weeks.
Or else.

And that begins the tale "It Sucks to Be Me" by new(ish) author Kimberly Pauley.  I got the chance to read this book while on vacation and frankly I was very, very pleased.  Ok a few disclaimers out of the way.  Yes, I know this book is aimed squarely at the Young Adult crowd, and I do know Kim.  But all that aside, this is a really good book.  Lets look into it.

Ok, the hero of our tale is Mina Hamilton the aforementioned 16 year old.  Her parents are vampires, something she has known all her life (it happened just after she was born) and it no big deal to her.  It becomes a big deal when the Northwest Regional Vampire Council (think the Camarilla with more red tape) finds out.  Now Mina, on top of everything else, has to decide whether or not to become a vampire.  She has to take Vampire Classes (not even remotely as cheesy as it sounds, and it is supposed to sound cheesy) and learn all these laws of the undead.  All the time she can't even tell her BFF about it.  Sure it's teen girl melodrama, but Kim really  makes it work well.

I will be honest here, I liked it. A lot.  I am not the target audience, and neither are many of the people that read this blog, but it was a well written, funny book that never takes the vampire myth too seriously but you can tell that Kim really knows her stuff.  I bet she could turn out a vampire tale worthy of Laurel K. Hamilton or Anne Rice and be a thousand times better than Stephanie Meyer.  But I get the distinct feel that that is not where her muse or interests lie.  I think it is obvious that Mina here is running the show so to speak.

Mina is an interesting character.  Like so many Urban-Fantasy-Supernatural / Chick-Lit books out there today Mina is a strong female-or at least she is going to be.  She is still only 16 and all the insecurities and hang-ups related to that. She doesn't know all the answers or even really what the questions are.  She is not entranced by the whole "vampire culture", thinking that some of it is kinda gross, and is more concerned with what and older heroine my consider trivial.  That though is her charm really, and the cleverness of Kim's writing.

Things I liked, in no particular order.
- Weird Uncle Mortie.  One day I need to ask if he is based on a real person, her characterization of him was too vivid. I know exactly what this guy looked like from the moment he left his giant yellow Cadillac.
- Mina's book report on "Dracula".  Very clever and I actually wanted to read more of that.  But that is the teacher in me.
- The author of the vampire books.  She was a kook and she was the one who wasn't a vampire.
- The Black Talons. Are we going to see more than them?  They are certainly not kiddie fare and closer to something like a "Black Court" vampire.
- Can't wait to see more of Mina in the next book.
- Great debut novel.  Some novels from first time authors read like a lot of really cool ideas strung together with a thin plot.  Not this one.  The plot gets into high gear right away and brings you along for the ride.
- I loved that Mina's family was so central to the tale.  I get tired of books where the family is missing, underused, or outright killed off.  Mina's parents (and Uncle Mortie again) are just as important to the tale and to Mina.
- A quick and easy read.  Perfect for vacation or just a nice afternoon with a book.

So. what can you, the older gamer, get from these books?

Well there is a bit actually.  It is good to see a new(er) take on vampires that does not make them into some sort of fetish object or make them sparkle.  In fact this book pretty much dismisses those points of view completely.  Ok, so Mina's parents and uncle are not the vamps from Dusk till Dawn (her favorite movie) either, but they certainly seem the exception rather than the rule.  Or, maybe they are just laying low.  It is easy to see that this book could take place in a larger universe similar to that of any modern supernatural game.  My own "Mayfair's" would work well as a "Blood Bar" in this universe too.

But most importantly I think the book is just a fun read.  When the kids have graduated Harry Potter, and they haven't yet (or won't) moved on to Twilight, then this is perfect.  Actually this is much better than Twilight.

This book is the perfect antidote for angsty, sprakly or otherwise gothier-than-thou vampires.  I look forward to more of Mina's (mis)adventures and a whole new list of why it still sucks to be her.

Links

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Week in Review (and then some)

Back from vacation.  I had the Blog on Auto-post all week, so sorry if I did not get to respond as quickly as I would have liked.

So what do I know?

- Gary Con.  Sad I missed it.  I really wanted to go but was on a plane at the time.

- TARGA/DnDWPS dust up.  That was a bunch of suck.  I am going to miss Chgowiz's blog, having met him in person recently.  I still like TARGA and what they do, and I still enjoy the hell out of Zak's blog.   I just find it all odd really.  Reminds of the time my mom told my brother and I that she hated it when we watched horror movies full of killing. She said she would rather see us watching porn because at least that was some positive.  So we went out and brought a bunch of porn home.  I think Dad was happy.  So people that play a game that is basically about "killing people and taking their stuff" have some issues with some occasional dirty talk and maybe a boob?   Not getting it. Sorry.  But that is all I want to say on the issue, I don't want to add fuel to a fire that is almost out.

Reminds me of another story.  I was supposed to go to a party to meet up with a bunch of the people that I hung out with and lived with in college (this was back in like 1990).  But my buddy Scott and I had gone out and proceeded to start drinking without everyone first.  We drank, listened to the Who for a while and were generally in a really fantastic mood (it was "springtime in Carbondale!" three words that held so much meaning back then, and "Face Dances" is much better when you are little off).  We showed up at the party and we were smashed and happy and loud and there had just been a HUGE fight between one of my roommates and his girlfriend and everyone there was so not in the mood for me or Scott.  That's what I am trying to avoid here.  We left and finished drinking on the steps of the local Lutheran Church because we felt at the time the Lutherans were the most accepting of all the local churches. Especially of a drunk atheist and neo-new agey whatever Scott was at the time.

Oh, and put me in the crowd as someone that would like to see Chgowiz/Mike bring his blog back.

- Vampyres. Yeah that was fun.  I love that stupid little flick. Might be a reflection of my immaturity or (as I prefer to think of it) my esoteric tastes in horror cinema.  Plus I got to try it out in a bunch of systems.  Might be a bit before I do that again; doing a bunch of systems at once.  I have nothing else up my sleeve unless I want to drag out Willow & Tara again, and you all might be tired of hear about them from me.

- Succubi week. I post my Sympathy for the Succubus post right before and then I see a bunch of other posts.  Mostly related to succubus pic from the Monster Manual.  Cultural Zeitgiest? Collect Subconscious? Naw. Doubt it, more like it is gamers for the most part are pervs.

- Blog Persona vs Real Life. This is an interesting one. I have a some people that read this blog on the website and others that read the redirect from Facebook.  On Facebook I have friends, family, co-workers, people I know from the gaming world because I like their stuff, people from the gaming world because they like my stuff and a bunch of others.  So, how should I "present" myself?  I mean I have people at work now telling me they had read my blog and commented on some of the things I have said.  Sometimes I even get a call from my mom and she comments on something I have said.  All I have really have to say about all of that is, well, you people are supposed to know who I am by this point. ;)
I am not planing to put anything here that I wouldn't figure my mom, my wife or my boss would read and get me into trouble.

- Books & Reviews.  I FINALLY got around to reading some the books and products sitting on my "to read" pile since before Christmas.  Expect a round of reviews to start coming in.

- What Scares you the most?  During my feverish time while I was sick it came to me what scares me the most.  Look forward to a post on that too.

- Orcus.  I am going to agree with Zak on something else here.  Orcus is the most Metal of all the Demon Lords.  If I ever get a chance to re-run going to Orcus' plane in the Abyss it needs to make "Tomb of Horrors" look like "Candyland".  Then I am going to ask James Raggi to tell me how to make it more metal.  This would fill that desire I have to an adventure that has EVERYTHING in it that all those critics in the 80s said D&D was about (and were wrong).  Childish of me?  Maybe I think it is actually that part of my brain that is attracted to medical dramas and really bad movies that part that says "how bad can this get? And then what can happen to make it worse?".  In other words, I want to turn it up to 11.
Maybe I could make it something like an OSR community thing.  Contribute one thing you would find in Orcus' lair, I don't care how sick, twisted, cruel or profane. Or I could just listen to Iron Maiden for about a week straight till something pops in my head.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vampyres: Witch Girls Adventures

Witch Girls Adventures

This one is a bit harder, not so much due to the system, but rather the subject matter. One doesn’t typically merge “Magic School Girls” with “Lesbian Vampire kill fest” unless this is Cinemax late night. But it be can made to work especially if the Director needs up the ante on a particular plot.

Using Mayfair’s, tone down the “strip club” aspect of it and make it more openly a nightclub for supernaturals, a very dangerous one at that. The stars have to go to Mayfair’s because they believe they will get information they need. Maybe some of the other students have gone missing and this was the last place they were seen. Suspicion can obviously fall on Fran and Miriam, but I think it is more interesting if the they are not involved directly but do know of someone who is. WGA has vampires and in their magical world vampires and witches can make for good adversaries or allies. Fran and Miriam can be reoccurring “guest stars” that have information that the stars will need every so often. Of course the teachers and headmistress of the star’s school has complete forbidden them from ever going to Mayfair’s, we all know how well that one works out.

I am not saying here to make Fran and Miriam into “sparkly vampires” or even into “good guys”, but certainly they should have their own agendas and killing the stars and drinking their blood might not be one of them. That’s what I wrote Elizabeth Bathory up for. Fran and Miriam are dangerous yes, but their role is more of the information broker, the devil that can give you information but at an unsure price. I am sure Fran would love to hire a couple of the stars, once they are older and have “grown-up” a bit and she would not be too amiss to mentioning this. Miriam might take this the wrong way of course and that can lead to all sorts of other problems.

Fran, Vampire
Rank: 4
Body: d8 Mind: d6 Senses: d8
Will: d10 Social: d10 Magic: d6
Life Points: 16 Reflex: 11
Resist Magic: 9 Zap Points: 12

Skills: Acting +2, Athletics +3, Basics +2, Dancing +2, Fighting +1, Gossip +3, Hear +1, Leader +3, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +2, Mythology +4, Streetwise +5

Abilities: Beautiful, Mysterious
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities


Miriam, Vampire
Rank: 4
Body: d10 Mind: d6 Senses: d10
Will: d10 Social: d10 Magic: d6
Life Points: 20 Reflex: 13
Resist Magic: 9 Zap Points: 12

Skills: Acting +3, Athletics +3, Basics +2, Dancing +3, Fighting +2, Gossip +1, Hear +1, Leader +1, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +1, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +2, Mythology +4, Streetwise +5

Abilities: Beautiful, Jaded
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vampyres: Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3.0

Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM 3)

Vampyres in BESM
The girls work best in a modern horror setting. So Imago is a good choice, but so is good old Earth. Given how much English flavor the movie has, keeping it on Earth is the best idea. That is not to say Mayfair's is not in downtown Tokyo.
Use Mayfairs as above, but instead of filling full vampires and demons, use Sex Ninjas, Anime Porn Stars and/or Modified Battle Maids. Or have them there in addition to the vamps and demons.

Like in Mutants & Masterminds, Fran and Miriam are not big threats to the characters.  They are on the weaker end of the vampire scale.  Their importance to characters and the game come from their knowledge and their situation as information brokers.

Fran
Template(s): Vampire
Genre: Modern day occult horror



BODY        10                HP: 110                ACV: 10
MIND        8                EP: 95                        DCV: 10       
SOUL        11                SSV: 22                Dam: 5

Attributes                                Level        Cost        Notes
Attack Combat Mastery +1 (        +10)
Combat technique (brutal) +1 (+2)
Defense Combat Mastery +1 (+10)
Features: Appearance +2 (+2)
Heightened Awareness +1 (+2)
Heightened Senses (hear, smell) +2 (+4)
Illusion (limited body only) +2 (+3)
Mind Control (humans, depletes) +2 (+13)
Regeneration +1 (+10)
Special Defense +11 (+22)
(ageing 2, disease 2, freezing water 2, freezing cold 2, lack of air 2, poison 1)
Special Movement +2 (+4)
Tough +1 (+2)
       
Skills Level (Cost) (Modern-day Occult setting)
Acrobatics +2 (+4)
Area Knowledge +2 (+2)
Climbing +1 (+2)
Cultural Arts +3 (+9)
Disguise +1 (+2)
Etiquette +3 (+3)
Foreign Culture +3 (+3)
Languages +2        (+4) English, French, Spanish
Occult +2 (+6)
Performing Arts +4 (+4)
Seduction +5 (+10)
Sleight of Hand +1 (+2)
Social Sciences +3 (+6)
Stealth        +3 (+6)
Street sense +3 (+6)
Urban Tracking +2 (+4)
Wilderness Survival +1 (+1)
Writing +1 (+1)

Defects (Cost)Notes
Bane Sunlight (-3)
Bane Mirrors (-2)

Notes: Can move about in the daylight, but is very weakened. When sleeping or in her crypt she appears to be dead.

Miriam
Template(s): Vampire
Genre: Modern day occult horror




BODY        11                HP: 115                ACV: 11
MIND        8                EP: 95                        DCV: 11       
SOUL        11                SSV: 23                Dam: 5


Attributes Level (Cost)
Attack Combat Mastery +1 (+10)
Combat technique (brutal, lighting) +2 (+4)
Defense Combat Mastery +1 (+10)
Features: Appearance +3 (+3)
Heightened Awareness +1 (+2)
Heightened Senses (hear, smell) +2 (+4)
Illusion (limited body only) +2 (+3)
Mind Control (humans, depletes) +2 (+13)
Regeneration +1 (+10)
Special Defense +11 (+22)
(ageing 2, disease 2, freezing water 2, freezing cold 2, lack of air 2, poison 1)
Special Movement +2 (+4)
Tough +1 (+2)

Skills Level (Cost) (Modern-day Occult setting)
Acrobatics +2 (+4)
Administration +2 (+2)
Area Knowledge +1 (+1)
Artisan +2 (+2)
Cultural Arts +3 (+9)
Disguise +1 (+2)
Etiquette +2 (+2)
Foreign Culture +2 (+2)
Gaming +1 (+1)
Languages +2 (+4) English, French, Spanish
Law +1 (+1)
Occult +2 (+6)
Performing Arts +2 (+2)
Seduction +4 (+8)
Stealth +3 (+6)
Street sense +3 (+6)
Urban Tracking +4 (+8)
Wilderness Survival +1 (+1)
Writing +2 +2

Defects (Cost)
Bane Sunlight (-2)
Bane Mirrors (-2)

Note: Miriam can move about in the daylight better than Fran and she waken from her torpor easier (her lesser sunlight defect).


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vampyres: Mutants and Masterminds

Mutants and Masterminds

Vampyres in Freedom City
As an option, use the Mayfair's scenario I posted. As vampires go, they are not very powerful, so they are less likely to pose a serious threat to a group of superheroes. Even at PL 10 they are better suited to starting characters (but not really a Claremont-based adventure). They are not masterminds, don't really have any criminal intent outside of murder for food, and really are not interested in joining a team. Now they could be uneasy allies in an adventure against Dracula.

As vamps running a local night club or strip joint they would have certainly heard of Dracula's return to Freedom City. Maybe they go to the Heroes in hopes of securing passage out in exchange for knowledge about Dracula and his plans.

What keeps the heroes of Freedom City from shutting them down? Simple, Mayfair's is on the books a legit legal enterprise. Fran and Miriam pay the city thousands in tax revenues not to mention their charitable contributions to homeless shelters (where they can also look for new recruits) and to homes for battered women (nothing nefarious here, Fran feels the need to help). So even city leaders that are not customers see Mayfair's as positive thing. Their underground business has never been proven, so any crimes that happen are hearsay or rumor only.


Fran
PL: 10 (150 pp)

Str: 14 (+2) Dex: 16 (+3) Con: NA Int: 13 (+1) Wis: 20 (+5) Chr: 26 (+8)

SKILLS: Acrobatics 4 (+7), Bluff 10 (+18), Climb 4 (+6), Concentration 4 (+9), Diplomacy 6 (+14), Disguise 4 (+12), Drive 2 (+5), Escape Artist 4 (+7), Gather Info 4 (+12), Handle Animal (+8), Intimidate 8 (+16), Investigate 4 (+5), Arcane Lore 2 (+3), History 4 (+5), Tactics 2 (+3), Theology and Philosophy 2 (+3), Streetwise 4 (+5), Notice 8 (+13), Dance 2 (+10), Acting 4 (+12), Ride (+3), Search 4 (+5), Sense Motive 8 (+13), Sleight of Hand (+3), Stealth 6 (+9), Survival 8 (+13), Swim (+2)

FEATS: Accurate Attack, Assessment, Attractive (1), Blind-Fight, Critical Strike, Elusive Target, Fascinate (1), Fearless, Improved Critical (1), Improved Grapple, Uncanny Dodge        

If using the Mayfair's scenario above Fran also has the following Feats
Connected, Contacts and Well-Informed       

POWERS:
4        Mind Control (visual dependent)
1        Drain Constitution (blood Drain)
30      Immunity (Fortitude Effects)       
5        Protection
5        Regeneration (blood drain based)
2        Supersenses
1        Time Control*
       
COMBAT: Melee 5 [Unarmed +2 (Bruise)] Ranged 5 [Unarmed +2 (Bruise)] Defense 15 (15 flatfooted) Init +3               
       
SAVES: Toughness 5 (5 flat-footed) Fortitude 0 Reflex 8 Will 13       

DRAWBACKS:        
Weakness -Mirrors [Freq DC 5] [Sev DC 5] -2
Weakness -Blood Dependence [Freq DC 10] [Sev DC 5] - 3
Weakness -Sunlight [Freq DC 5] [Sev DC 10] -4
       
Breakdown: Abilities 29 + Skills 28 (110 ranks) + Feats 11 + Powers 57 + Combat 20 + Saves 13 Drawbacks -8 = 150       

Notes: Can move about in the daylight, but is very weakened. When sleeping or in her crypt she appears to be dead.


Miriam
PL: 10 (150 pp)       
Str: 16 (+3) Dex: 16 (+3) Con: NA Int: 14 (+2) Wis: 20 (+5) Chr: 22 (+6)               

SKILLS: Acrobatics 4 (+7), Bluff 8 (+14), Climb 4 (+7), Concentration 1 (+6), Diplomacy 6 (+12), Disguise 4 (+10), Drive 1 (+4), Escape Artist 4 (+7), Gather Info 4 (+10), Handle Animal (+6), Intimidate 4 (+10), Investigate 4 (+6), Arcane Lore 2 (+4), History 8 (+10), Tactics 1 (+3), Theology and Philosophy 1 (+3), Streetwise 4 (+6), Medicine 2 (+7), Notice 6 (+11), Dance 2 (+8), Acting 4 (+10), Ride (+3), Search 4 (+6), Sense Motive 8 (+13), Sleight of Hand (+3), Stealth 4 (+7), Survival 8 (+13), Swim (+3)        

FEATS: Accurate Attack, Assessment, Attractive (2), Blind-Fight, Critical Strike, Elusive Target, Fascinate (1), Improved Critical (1), Improved Grapple, Uncanny Dodge                

If using the Mayfair's scenario above Miriam also has the following Feats
Connected, Contacts and Well-Informed               

POWERS:       
1        Drain Constitution (blood Drain)
30      Immunity (Fortitude Effects)       
5        Mind Control (visual dependent)
7        Protection
5        Regeneration (blood drain based)
2        Supersenses
1        Time Control*
       
COMBAT: Melee 5 [Unarmed +3 (Bruise)] Ranged 5 [Unarmed +3 (Bruise)] Defense 15 (15 flatfooted) Init +3               
       
SAVES: Toughness 7 (7 flat-footed) Fortitude 0 Reflex 8 Will 13       

Weakness -Mirrors [Freq DC 5] [Sev DC 5] -2
Weakness -Blood Dependence [Freq DC 10] [Sev DC 5] -3
Weakness -Sunlight [Freq DC 5] [Sev DC 5] -3
       
Breakdown: Abilities 28 + Skills 25 (100 ranks) + Feats 11 + Powers 61 + Combat 20 + Saves 13 Drawbacks -8 = 150

Note: Miriam can move about in the daylight better than Fran and she waken from her torpor easier (her lesser Daylight drawback).

ETA: Also at the Atomic Think Tank. http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=23130

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vampyres: WitchCraft RPG

Vampyres for the WitchCraft RPG
I am going against my own self-imposed rules here and converting a movie to WitchCraft (as opposed to Buffy or Ghosts of Albion). I justify it by that the vampyres of the movie are more along the lines of WitchCraft’s vampyres, and not just in spelling. For example, neither are show with fangs, “game faces” or anything like that. Fran and Miriam do seem to be more like essence vampyres with blood thirst than the vampires of the cinematic games. They are not portrayed as being super strong, or turning into mist, dust, or even bats. Larraz himself in the commentary mention he was more interested in telling stories about interesting characters and humans than about monsters.
Plus there is also a book out of this, published almost 30 years later by Tim Greaves, a “Vampyres” expert, and his descriptions of the girls’ powers match the game power of WitchCraft a little better.

Fran and Miriam as ESP Succubi
Eden Studios Presents (ESP) #2 details an alternate type of vampire commonly referred to as a “succubus” by Peter Trueman. While I don’t really care to use “succubus” in this context (I like my succubi to be demons), I can’t ignore that Fran and Miriam could use some of the ideas Peter puts forth. They certainly like to give their victims pleasure, but they seem to enjoy the brutal kill as well. Miriam has the Wake by Day Quality and both use Manipulations of the Flesh to appear more attractive and to subtly change their appearances. They keep fangs hidden till feeding, and even then Fran still prefers to use a sharp knife.


Fran
Played by Marianne Morris
Vampyre Survivor


Strength 5 Dexterity 4 Constitution 4
Intelligence 3 Perception 4 Willpower 7

Life Points 55
Endurance 0 Speed 16 Essence 62

Qualities and Drawbacks
Attractiveness 2, Charisma 2, Covetous - Lecherous 1, Cruel 2, Hard to Kill 3, Increased Essence Pool 3, Nerves of Steel 1, Resources Quality 2, Vampyre

Skills
Acrobatics 3, Acting 4, Beautician 2, Brawling 2, Dancing (Disco) 1, Fine Arts (Painting) 2, First Aid 2, Intimidation 2, Language (French) 1, Language (Spanish) 1, Lock Picking (Mechanical) 1, Pick Pocket 1, Seduction 5, Smooth Talking 3, Streetwise 2, Survival (Forest) 2, Trance

Metaphysics/Powers
Bloodthirst 1, Manipulate Emotions 1, Manipulations of the Flesh, Mirage 1 (alter time perception), Nightmare 1, Wake by Day 1

Small Knife, Damage D4(2)x(Strength-1). Damage Type Slashing/Stabbing.

Notes: Can move about in the daylight, but is very weakened. When sleeping or in her crypt she appears to be dead. Uses her Mirage power to alter the perception of time and space to confuse her victims.



Miriam
Played by Anulka Dziubinska
Vampyre Survivor


Strength 6 Dexterity 6 Constitution 5
Intelligence 3 Perception 5 Willpower 6

Life Points 60
Endurance 0 Speed 22 Essence 66

Qualities and Drawbacks
Attractiveness 3, Charisma 1, Covetous - Lecherous 1, Cruel 1, Hard to Kill 2, Increased Essence Pool 3, Minority 0 (Lesbian)*, Resources 2, Vampyre

Skills
Acrobatics 3, Acting 4, Beautician 2, Brawling 3, Dancing (Disco) 1, Fine Arts (Painting) 2, First Aid 1, Intimidation 1, Language (French) 1, Language (Spanish) 1, Magic Bolt 1, Seduction 4, Smooth Talking 3, Streetwise 2, Survival (Forest) 2, Trance

Metaphysics/Powers
Bloodthirst, Manipulate Emotions, Manipulations of the Flesh, Mirage, Nightmare, Semblance of Life, Wake by Day 2 Kick, Damage D4(2)x(Strength+1).

Small Knife, Damage D4(2)x(Strength-1). Damage Type Slashing/Stabbing.

Note: Miriam can move about in the daylight better than Fran and she waken from her torpor easier (Wake by Day from ESP 2).

*Lesbian in this case is a zero point drawback. In the book Miriam openly flaunts her preference for girls. When she was alive she was seen with a different beautiful young woman every week. It did however get her killed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vampyres: Chill

CHILL (1st Edition)

The very first time Fran and Miriam made an appearance in one of my games was in Chill…sort of. I had planned to use them, and Mayfair’s was only a brief idea at this point, but never had the chance.

At this point Fran and Miriam had just left their home in the movie and were headed towards Barcelona. It was here that they are first spotted by S.A.V.E. agents.

In Chill, the supernatural and the mundane do not play as nice with each other as they do in other games. So Mayfair’s as a place for the PCs to find information is suddenly a much more dangerous place. Vampires in Chill are not social creatures, so it is not likely that this is a “vampire” hang out. It certainly will have a few, but almost all are one created by Fran and Miriam.

Vampires in the Chill “Vampires” book were all separated by type such as “Common Carpathian” or “Alpine”. These types typically described where they were from and what powers they had in common. Fran and Miriam could best be described as “English Vampires”.



Fran

STR 80 DEX 64 AGL 70
PER 110 WPR 122 PCN 64
STA 64 EWS 125 FEAR 5
ATT 1/75%

Movement: Can sprint without STA loss 75’ per round.

Evil Way Disciplines: Change Weather, Influence, Steal Memory, Time Stop

Skills: Acting/Drama (M) 123; Disguise (T) 102; History (M) 118; Legend Lore (M) 118; Modeling (M) 141;

IPs: 1000

Special Characteristics

1. Unlike other vampire Fran can cast a reflection and reproduces an image on film and video.

2. Fran can move around during daylight hours, but must avoid direct sunlight. She cannot use her Time Stop powers during the light of day.

3. Fran must rest eight hours to regain Stamina and Willpower. Fran prefers to be underground when resting. She appears to be dead when resting; she does not breathe, has not heartbeat and her body is cold.

4. Fran can be held at bay by any religious symbol.

5. Fran needs to feed on least 2 quarts of fresh blood a week. She does not have to kill to get this blood, but she often does.

6. In combat Fran uses a curved knife. She can attack once per round.

7. Those who wish to destroy Fran must bury her along with Miriam with proper rights.




Miriam

STR 90 DEX 75 AGL 80
PER 110 WPR 110 PCN 81
STA 64 EWS 125 FEAR 5
ATT 1/75%

Movement: Can sprint without STA loss 75’ per round.

Evil Way Disciplines: Influence, Steal Memory, Time Stop

Skills: Acting/Drama (M) 125; Dance (M) 125; Disguise (M) 117; History (T) 110; Legend Lore (T) 110; Modeling (M) 135;

IPs: 1000

Special Characteristics

1. Unlike other vampire Miriam can cast a reflection and reproduces an image on film and video.

2. Miriam can move around during daylight hours, but must avoid direct sunlight. She cannot use her Time Stop powers during the light of day.

3. Miriam must rest eight hours to regain Stamina and Willpower. Fran prefers to be underground when resting. She appears to be dead when resting; she does not breathe, has not heartbeat and her body is cold. Miriam is a light sleeper and can waken herself at the slightest noise.

4. Miriam can be held at bay by any religious symbol.

5. Miriam needs to feed on least 2 quarts of fresh blood a week. She does not have to kill to get this blood, but she often does.

6. In combat Miriam uses a curved knife. She can attack once per round.

7. Those who wish to destroy Miriam must bury her along with Fran with the proper rights.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vampyres Week

This week I am going to spend some time with one of my favorite B-rate horror films, Vampyres.


“Vampyres”, also known as “The Daughters of Darkness”, may in fact be one of the most notorious “cult films” of 70’s horror. Equal parts suspense, gore and softcore (almost hardcore) content, it was also a surprisingly good (if somewhat cliché story by today standards) and somewhat surreal film. There is no denying that the two leads, Marianne Morris as “Fran” and Anulka Dziubinska as “Miriam”, are positively fantastic to look at, but they also move in such a fluid way that you can easily believe they are supernatural creatures. This film is also the keystone of the Lesbian-Vampire trope in cinema, a sub-subject that began with Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and has expanded to “Dracula’s Daughter” to “The Hunger”. There has been almost as much analysis of the lesbian vampire as the vampire itself. So much so that there are anthologies of lesbian-themed vampire short stories called “Daughters of Darkness” after this and and another notorious movie.

Vampyres was filmed on the location of many of the same “haunts” as the Hammer films, it also has that 70’s British Horror film feel that was a staple in my steady diet of horror films through out my youth. It even bares some similarity to an actual Hammer film, “The Vampire Lovers” (based on Carmilla) and even another "Daughters of Darkness" (based on Bathory this time).

This is not “Citizen Kane”, but nor was it meant to be.

Cliché or Trope?
Vampyres is not meant to be a thought provoking tale, it was a thin excuse to feature as much female nudity as they could get away with and tell a vampire story. As I mentioned, lesbian vampires are well established in fiction (though I don’t believe that José Ramón Larraz himself was aware of those) it features another overused, clichéd plot device, killing a woman after she has lesbian sex or causing her to go on a murderous spree. “Vampyres” features both. This was old even in 1974 and inexcusable today. Though vampires need to rise from the dead, so they need to be dead. The implication is that is Ted (the man they slowly torture with sex and feedings) is the same man that killed them, in that sense a killing has to happen sometime and we want to establish that Ted is in fact deserving of his fate (even though he gets away). Trouble with this is we have to try to explain why and how Ted doesn’t recognize Fran and Miriam (I am going to use their vampiric shape changing abilities) or the house. The deal I guess is Larraz never claimed to be a great writer (even less of a wunderkind and really just a filmmaker working on a movie with naked girls in it). In the end “Vampyres” is not the most original work, but I don’t watch porn for the plots either.
Is it cliché? Yeah it is. But even though it is a thin movie it manages to avoid most of the 70’s Horror movie clichés (still get the young couple having sex in the woods one and the old creepy house). I’ll cut the filmmakers some slack since it was 1974.

The Story
(based on the director commentary, the essay and novel by Tim Greaves, and some embellishments)

This story begins a few “years ago” (as the film implies, three for the book) with Francesca “Fran” Morris and Miriam Trent. Fran and Miriam were two young lovers. The trouble was that Fran’s boyfriend, Ted, was a jealous, hateful man and he did not approve of his girlfriend having an affair, let alone with another woman. So one night after drinking he caught Fran and Miriam in a lover’s embrace so he shot and killed them both. He took the bodies and dumped them in the crypts of the castle they were staying at. Some time after he drove off into the night Fran and Miriam rose from the dead as vampyres. Confined to their crypts by day, they haunted the castle at night, and thus spawning the local rumor that they were ghosts.
During the middle part of the 70’s (1974) they spent their time posing as hitchhikers. They would find a man, either alone, or together, and ask for a ride back to their home. There they would seduce him (not a difficult task when you are two extremely attractive bi-sexual women and have a cellar full of vintage wines), use their powers to alter the perception of time, and kill and drain his blood. They then would take the body and stage it to look like it was a horrible car crash.
Tragedy struck when one man they seduced, Ted, turns out to be Fran’s old boyfriend. Instead of killing him outright, Fran toys with him. He manags to escape and the two vampyres fled to the English countryside. During the entire time they manage to kill half-dozen other people including a young couple camping in the woods outside their manor.

Use in the 70’s and after
To play the Vampyres in the 70’s simply follow the movie. An adventure can begin with our heroes suspecting that a rash of murders is vampire or serial killer related find themselves at the manor, only to find it empty and cold trail. Investigation must take place!
In my games (I first worked these two up for Chill) I imagined that they headed to Spain and Barcelona; my nod to director José Ramón Larraz. Here they laid low, killing only when needing too (once every week or so). I stopped using them after that (my Chill game stopped) so I guess I figured they had been killed by some intrepid Spanish vampire hunter. But now I am thinking no, they survived and just recently (let’s say 2003, the date the Blue Underground DVD was released) began to resume their activities.

Today
So let’s say the girls survive their encounter in England what would they be doing today? What motivates them?

For starters move them away from Farnsworth Hall. The end of the movie has the place for sale and being looked at by two Americans. The book suggests the place is haunted and strange deaths occur there all the time. So they might still be there, or come back years later, but there is a time when they are not there at all.
What about the girls themselves? Personally I see it as a cop out to say they are man-hating lesbians. I say it is lazy plotting and just way too obvious. They have issues yes, getting killed in the middle of hot girl-on-girl action will do that, but do they kill out of hate or because they need to feed? Well it’s both I’d say. They kill people because they need the blood to feed. They enjoy it because they really don’t like people. I guess in the end they would rather be left alone, but they do need to feed and that is where they will run into the Cast. Fran also mentions to Miriam in the book (during the “shower” scene) that she needs to have sex with men every once in a while, whereas Miriam never has to if she can avoid it. Sex is bait to lure what they really want. Blood.
We could go the Quentin Tarantino route. Fran and Miriam are working in a strip joint where they pick out men, lure them away with the promise of sex and kill them. Come to think of it there is something like that in the WitchCraft RPG book now. I like this idea because the cast can encounter them rather easily and it helps build up the tension a bit between Miriam and Fran. How long will Miriam tolerate Fran’s dalliances with men? Will someone else come along and pull one of them away from the other? Let’s expand on that and come up with an idea that will fit all versions of Fran and Miriam.

Mayfair’s
Mafair’s is an upperclass “Gentlemen’s Club” owned by Miriam and run by Fran. It caters to upperclass business men and couples. Featuring some of the most beautiful women in the area, Mayfair’s also features fine dining and walk in humidor and smoking lounge. The only that strikes you odd about Mayfair’s is there are no clocks or mirrors to be seen anywhere.
That is on the surface. In the back halls and lower levels Mayfair’s also features special services for the supernatural underground. Live S&M shows, demonic prostitution and even vampiric feeding parlors. If there is a vice that can be bought it can be bought at Mayfair’s.
Fran and Miriam control this den of lust by maintaining complete neutrality. They have made many deals, and have blackmailed others into their position. They have manipulated those in power, terrestrial, spiritual, mundane and magical, into a position of permanent stalemate. They can continue their business, providing what they feel is a necessary service, and feed on all the released essence they can care too. Blood is never issue, they have prospective donors lined up and willing to pay them so they can have their blood sucked. Generally speaking everyone is pleased with the situation and they get exactly what they want. Every once in a while someone comes along and feels they can do a better job and tries to run them out of business, but with a client list as long as their’s help is usually only a phone call away.
The Cast/Heroes can use Mayfair’s as a place to gain information. If something is going on in supernatural underworld, the girls at Mayfair’s are usually the first to know.

Fran and Miriam


Fran (about Miriam): She is my girlfriend. We have a lot in common, we got on very well together.

Fran
Fran is the oldest and more adventurous of the two. She often is the one brining in the new victims. She is also the crueler of the two, gaining more sadistic pleasure out of torturing her victims before killing them. She toys with Ted, so long in fact she never has the chance to kill him. This could come from the fact it was her boyfriend that killed both her and Miriam. Fran wears a heavy black leather long coat. In the book Fran likes both girls and guys, but prefers Miriam to all.

Played by Marianne Morris
Age 58 (appears to be 24)
Height 5'5"
Weight 120 lbs.
Hair Auburn (Redish-brown)
Eyes Brown

Miriam
Miriam is the younger. What she lacks in Fran’s stronger personality she makes up for with a nymph-like attractiveness. Miriam uses her sex-appeal as bait, she enjoys the quick kill and the blood that comes with it. She is more cautious, warning Fran to kill Ted before he discovers who they are. Where Fran uses a dagger to draw blood, Miriam prefers the more traditional fangs to the artery. Miriam wears a heavy dark cloak lined with red. In the book Miriam owns Farnsworth Hall and has all the cash. She prefers women, having a string of young lovers before seducing Fran away from Ted. She prefers to kill the men quickly and get their blood.

Played by Anulka Dziubinska
Age 57 (appears to be 23)
Height 5'4"
Weight 105 lbs.
Hair Blonde
Eyes Blue

A Note About Multiple Versions
My purpose is to again expand on my goal of finding the best system to do a particular job and my own curiosity of how the same character can be represented in multiple systems. In every case I started with a basic concept of Fran and Miriam and attempted to re-create them within the confines of that system (not making anything new up) rather than simply converting one version to another. I did then go back a overlook the versions and may have buffed some points her or there. The results may cause me to have miscounted a point or so here or there.
Plus I also strongly feel that regardless of what game I am playing at any given time I can get something useful out of another game. So to that end I am also posting this to multiple forums so people can compare the various versions.
In the end I think I have a much clearer picture of who these characters are and what they are supposed to be.

Links

IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072354/
Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampyres_%28film%29

DVD
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000092T69/104-6339964-7477559?v=glance
From Blue Underground http://www.blue-underground.com/product.php?product=6

Tomorrow, the stats.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hard Core Gamers

In case you have been living under a rock all week, the new video version of the hit blog Playing D&D with Porn Stars is out now.

Called "I Hit it With My Axe" it features, well, porn stars, playing D&D.   It's actually quite a good blog and features not only some interesting insights to the game and how people play but also commentary from the likes of Mandy Morbid, Satine Phoenix (below), Zak Sabbath (blogger & DM) and special guests like Sasha Grey and Justine Joli.



It certainly busts a few stereotypes. Like that all gamers are geeky guys hiding out in their basements and all porn stars are sex craved but empty headed.

Looking forward to more!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 2

Continuing on with my tribute to the Succubus (or is that obsession?) here is some crunch.

Succubae for Ghosts of Albion (Cinematic Unisystem)

Succubae are demons that seduce men and feed off of their base desires and life force.
She can drain 1 Point of CON each night she visits, but must grapple awake opponents or visit them when sleeping.
The succubus can learn magic, but most often they do not.

Creature Type: Succubus (Demon)
Attributes: Str 3, Dex 5, Con 5, Int 4, Per 3, Will 6
Ability Scores: Muscle 12, Combat 13, Brains 15
Life Points: 45
Drama Points: 2

Powers: Glamour; Constitution Drain (1 CON point per visit); Flight; Insubstantial Form;
Qualities: Attractive 4; Hard to Kill; Innate Magic; Resistance (Fire, Poison; Mind Control); Telepathy; Charming Voice
Drawbacks: Lecherous; Covetous; Inhuman Form

Maneuvers
Name;  Score; Damage; Notes
Bite;  13; 5;  Must grapple first; no defence action
Claw;  13; 8;  Two attacks per Turn
Grapple; 13; —;  Resisted by dodge
Kiss/Embrace; *; 1 CON point; Must Grapple first

Spellcasting 15 Varies By spell
Deflect 15 — Magic defence action; deflects spells 45º

Bat Winged Bimbo (Buffy and Angel, Cinematic Unisystem)
4-Point Quality
(Trying to do my best "Buffy-style" here)
Bat wing bimbos are demons, but don’t hold it against them. Sure they are as evil as their bigger sister the Succubi, but a girl has to make a living too. Like so many that leave their homes and end up in Southern California, the BWB has learned to do some things she never thought she would ever do to earn a buck.
Often times when not looking for a soul to steal, these catty little demons can be found fighting amongst themselves, avoiding over zealous demon hunters, or trying to get a real movie deal because they know they are a star and they hope no one will look into their pasts.

Being a Bat-Winged Bimbo gives you the following:
- 3 Levels of Attractive. We all know that evil always looks better.
- 3 levels of Hard To Kill. Living in a Hell hole makes you a bit tougher, living in Hell itself turns you into a hard ass bitch.
- Asbestos Soul. BWB gain a +1 Resistance to pain from fire and heat. BWB treat fire damage as regular damage (no extra damage each turn).
- Those cute horns count as a natural weapon, doing 1-2 points of damage per hit. (+1)
- Those sexy wings provide flight at the same movement rate as running. (+1)
- Gossipy. BWB bimbos tend to be a chatty, gossipy lot. Sure 99% of it is about manicures for wing talons and how to snag a good (evil?) demon lord, but some it useful. They get a +2 to their Occultism skill (the Things Man Was Not Meant to Know are fine for women it seems).
But this comes with a fair amount of drawbacks too.
Bat-Wing Bimbos have a host of mental and emotional problems. They are mean spirited (literally), petty, and vindictive not to mention lecherous little harpies. In game terms this equates to Cruel 1, Covetous (Greedy) 1, Covetous (Lecherous) 1.
Those large wings and horns might be totally hot, but you could never take her home to mom (unless of course mom was into that kinky stuff). This is worth Supernatural Form (definitely not human).

Bat Winged Bimbos as Characters
BWB can be a useful part of an otherwise upstanding and moral party of demon hunters. Slayers hate them, but those scrawny little bitches are just jealous. The biggest issue of course is how to hide those wings, horns and tail. Faerie Glamours or other illusion magics will hide their natural form from the mundane, but anyone that can see magic will see through that disguise to what she really looks like.

Bat Winged Bimbos were created to be something like a "lesser Succubus", akin to the old D&D Alu-Demon.  These were obviously inspired by the the same creatures in Macho Women with Guns.
If you go with my alternate take on Slayers from Every Angel is Terrifying then Succubi, Lilim and Slayers are all related.

Witch Girls Adventures
Malcolm Harris, the author of Witch Girls Adventures mentions that there are no demons in the Witch Girls universe, but there are spirits called "Hates".  It is actually kind of a neat concept.  If there are hate spirits then certainly there can be other deadly sins, such as lust spirits.  Alternately there could also be a type of vampire that feeds on emotions rather than blood.  The ones that feed on the more amorous emotions (lust, love) could be called Succubi.  In this sense they are more similar to the WitchCraft RPG Vampyre subtype.

A succubus in WGA should probably be something like Chloe Love from the Eerie Cuties webcomic.

Succubus
Rank: 3
Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d8
Will: d8 Social: d8 Magic: d6
Life Points: 12 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 9 Zap Points: 12
Skills: Athletics +2, Basics +2, Dancing +4, Fighting +1, Hear +1, Leader +3, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +3, Mysticism +2, *Mythology +4, Streetwise +3
Abilities: Beautiful, Mysterious
Heritage: Demon / Lust Spirit / Vampire
Spells: Succubi have access to all the Charm type spells in the WGA core.

Cortex
Cortex is a system I have talked about off and on.  It is one I like, just not one I get to play a lot of.
Succubi would work well in Cortex since the characters tend to skew more normal than say Buffy or Ghosts of Albion.  A single Succubi with a good plan should be more than a match for a group of heroes.
For example imagine the havoc a succubus could do to the investigators in a Supernatural game.

Angie Everhart as Lilith

Succubus (Base)
Agi d10 Str d6 Vit d10
Ale d12 Int d8 Wil d12

Init d10 + d12
LP 22
Endurance d10 + d12
Resistance d10 + d10

Traits
Allure d10, Amorous d8, Enhanced Communication d6, Enhanced Senses d6, Immunity d12, Inherent Weapon (claws) d2, Sharp Senses d6

Skills Athletics d4/Acrobatics d6, Influence d4, Knowledge d8/Occultism d12, Melee Weapons d4, Perception d6, Unarmed Combat d6

Attacks: The Succubus drains life force from her victims. She either does this while the victm is sleeping, in her embrace, or if she has grappled the victim. Once she has a victim in her embrace she will drain for a number of turns equal to a third the maximum result of the victim’s Vitality Attribute. She will return to the victim two more times, draining the remaining third each time till the victim dies.

Spellcraft & Swordplay
Succubi are set to appear in the upcoming Spellcraft & Swordplay supplement Eldritch Witchery, as soon as I finish writing it.  Among other things, EW will also feature Demons and Devils.  Succubi are the daughters of the Queen of Demons.

Succubus

#App: 1
AL: E
SZ: M
AC: 7
Move: 90' / Fly: 120'
HD: 6 (25)
Attacks: Claw/Claw/Special (2 dagger-2)
Special: Fly 120', Energy Drain (kiss), Darkvision, Dominate, Magic Resistance (fire), Immune to mundane weapons
Treasure: 6
XP: 345

These female demons are not found in great numbers and never working together.  They claim to be the daughters of the Demon Queen, but this is a claim the Demon Queen herself neither supports nor denies.  In any case these demons, while not physically very powerful, are capable of controlling other demons that are far more powerful.  Succbi are charged with the tempting of mortals, a task they relish in.  They appear as unearthly beautiful women (or men if needed), in their true form they stand 6' high and feature small horns, a tail and large bat-like wings growing from their backs.
A Succubus can cause Darkness 5', have Darkvision, can Dominate any one (1) PC and can become Incorporeal at will.  The Succubi lures her victim into acts of passion and drains their life force with a kiss.  This Energy Drain takes 1 life level/hit dice.  She can also use the following spells as a Witch (wizard) of 6th level, Charm Person, Detect Good, Continual Flame, ESP, Clairaudience, Hold Person, and Polymorph Self. Succubi also have Spell Resistance against fire based magic.  If pressed they can attack with two claw attacks (dagger -2), if each attack succeeds then she can also grapple for her energy drain attack/kiss.
A succubus can gate in another demon (expect another succubus) ... details in Eldritch Witchery.

Last Thoughts
Regardless of the game Succubi should be given the same attention that one would give a vampire in a horror game; that is treat it like a special NPC and build her as a character. Most demons can be part of the mindless hordes you send after the characters, and in most cases this is the appropriate thing to do.  Succubi though, since they tend to work alone and are very specialized in their hunts, should be built to suit. A succubus designed to go after William Swift in Ghosts of Albion should be different than the one sent after Dean Winchester in Supernatural.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 1

I'll admit it.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Succubi.    Those little trollops from Hell, tempting men with there wild demonic ways.  There are the fangs, the wings and the whole draining your life force and taking your soul to Hell.

What is not to love?

Maybe it was that David Sutherland Succubus from the AD&D Monster Manual.  This was hot stuff back in 1979. She was like a perky little cheerleader for Satan. With wings instead of pom-poms.  I always said if I ever got a tattoo this would be it.  Well maybe never said that out-loud.

One of the very few movies about a succubus was called, at least when I rented it on VHS many years ago, The Succubus.  I looked for this film forever.  Of course I finally found it again, under it's more common title of The Devil's Nightmare.  She was a blue skinned demon that reminds me of the old AD&D Monster Cards. Though there is this other movie also called "Succubus", http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062032/, but I don't think I ever saw that one.  I wonder why Succubi don't appear in more movies but I can think of a few named succubi that appear in D&D alone and that is not counting the Anime, modern horror books, webcomics, and even their own Wiki and Blog.  Reaper minis have practically made a market on little metal succubi.

I was recently going through the old Mentzer Immortal set for Basic (BECMI) D&D.  One of the very cool things in that book were how they portrayed the Succubus.  They called them "Whispering Demons".  How cool is that.  That really changes their nature in terms of a combat game.  Now they are not out there fighting the characters, but working subtly behind the scenes to get things done.  Sort of like how they re-visioned the Orion Slave Girls in Trek.  I like that idea myself.  Ups their temptress/seductress side and down plays their combat. Even if in the Immortal rules they are 15 HD compared to the MM's 6 HD. Ok, not exactly the same systems I know.  The succubus has had a few changes over the years and editions.  They were absent from AD&D 2nd Ed for the longest time only to turn up as Tanar'ri.I guess that was an attempt to placate the Religious Right.  In D&D 3.x they were back to their 1st Ed demonic selves really, but some of the 2nd Ed baggage was kept.  In D&D 4 they become devils (more on that in a sec) but they are certainly the same things.  In fact the only thing really different about them is they are not just content to tempt humans but Arch Devils now too.

I did a review/write-up on the Selfish Succubus from Flames Rising and did a bunch of stat ups for that, not all of which were demons.  In the WitchCraft game (and in the old Vampire game too I think) they are a type of Vampire.  I also have some Succubi I did for a Willow & Tara adventure, but mine were not much different than what appeared in the 1st Ed. AD&D book.  I did play of off my 2nd Ed AD&D Witch book and classified them not as demons, but as Lilim, or the Daughters of Lilith.  Compare this to what they did to them in D&D 4.0, where they are now listed as devils. This one of the changes to the D&D 4 game I actually disliked at first.  I can see the reasons behind it, but it seemed to be a odd change to me.  Demons are about destruction and lust, betrayal and dominance is just another form of that.  What though is nice about the 4E Succubus is she now fills the role of both the 3E Succubus and the 3E "Pleasure Devil" or Brachina, which was something like a fallen angel.  Plus I do like the idea of the Arch Dukes of Hell having their own group of Succubi spies.

Going to the myths is helpful, but confusing.  There are so many creatures that are like the succubus and they are also often confused with vampires, lamias, and Night Hags.  Though that is the thing about RPGs.  In myth there are thousands of monsters with lots of overlap or maybe even different names for the same thing.  So I can have my succubus and my night hag and even though they share similar backgrounds I can keep them separate.  Playing off of the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetypes I can have my Succubi as twisted Maidens (stealing men's vital essence), Lamia (and not the collection of bugs one) as the dark Mother that eats babies, and Night Hags as a Crone who does not impart wisdom, but madness (and a nasty surprise).

I could argue then that Succubi in my games are Lilim, the offspring of Lilith and various devils.  I think I can live with that.  Succubi in my D&D games then at least are the offspring of Demons and Devils.  Sure.  Desired by all and trusted by none.

How to Use Succubi in your game
Succubi are the perfect foil for a group of adventurers.  Adventurers, especially high level ones, are everything a Succubi would want.  They have power, fame, prestige and can influence the world. Since a fair number of adventurers are in it for fame and fortune, or at least ale and wenches, a succubi is like candy.  The beauty of it is that even when some players figure it out, they still might go for it.  It's like the "alien girl-friend" trope in some Anime; "I am so awesome my girlfriend is a Demon!" It's the same reason there are so many catgirls out there.

The obvious choice is of course the Temptress for a darker power.  The Succubi are sent to the game world to collect souls.  Once they have them they go back and give them to their pimp the Arch Duke that employs them.

In my Unisystem games I have used Succubi/Lilim a couple of different ways.  In one adventure she was captured along with a bunch of other supernatural types but had fallen in love with an angel.  In another during the same campaign I used succubi as lures and bait for some humans using their magic to drain mundane humans.

What I like to use the most for is a surprise.  Don't get me wrong, I like the whole bad girl thing they have going and I am a fan.  But a succubus in a game lacks honest surprise from the players.  Not just a good succubus, but something way out of the ordinary.  The Succubus Paladin that WotC was going on about in the 3.x days was cool and I love to hear more of her story.  In 4e I'd love to build a Succubus Warlock. Infernal of course, with her natural 22 Charisma as her casting stat (thats +10 to start). That would be very awesome and a great NPC foe for the PCs.  3rd Ed had level adjustments, so I'll have to figure out how to build her in 4e or even other systems. I think a awesome character then is in order here.  Not Lilith, too much baggage. But something entirely new, and like Dirty Nellie, someone I can use across a lot of different games.

Here is what I have so far.  A succubus was sent to tempt a powerful wizard.  She went in disguised as a human in order to win him over and steal his soul for her dark master.  Of course the wizard knew what she was all along and finally revealed that fact to her.  They struck a bargin, she would remain and continue her affections (he was still human after all) and he would teach her magic.  Each thought they would have the upper hand so they both agreed.  Several years later the succubus had learned much in the ways of magic and wizard eventually died.  He attempted to cheat his fate by becoming a lich, but she won in the end.  With soul in hand she returned to her dark master.  But once there she had no desire to be the willing servant anymore, so with the power of the wizards soul and all the magic she had learned she trapped her former master in a soul cage.  She changed her truename and set up shop in the wizard's former tower.  In a moment of what must have been weakness she released the wizard's soul to find it's own rewards in the afterlife.  Now the succubus remains in the world. She seeks out all sorts of magical knowledge and grows in power.  She has a cadre of apprentices to aid her in magical research and provide her with the life energies she needs.

Still needs a bit more detail, and a name.  But this is a good start and flexible enough to use in D&D, Ghosts of Albion, any modern horror game or even a supers game.

Next time: Crunch

Protectors of Éire for the Ghosts of Albion RPG

Tá an chumhacht agaibh. Cosnaímis mé, a Chosantóirí na hÉireann!


The Protectors of Éire
Like it's neighbor, Albion, Éire (the mystical name for Ireland) has also had her Protectors.

At the time of Swifts (1839 on) the Protector of Éire is Tadgh O’Braohain and he is detailed in the upcoming adventure "Ghosts of Albion: Blight", which can be played this 2010 Gen Con.

Though until then here are some of the more famous Protectors of Ireland's shores.

Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn Mac Cool)
Protector of Éire

Fionn Mac Cumhail was believed to have lived sometime around the Fifth to Second Century BCE. Fionn lost his father, Cumhail, when he was killed by a rival clan. Muirne, his mother, called her son Fionn which means fair-haired. Knowing that the Clan Morna would seek him out as well she took him to be raised by the wise Ban-drui Bodhmal and her anamchara the warrior woman Liath. They taught Finn to be both a warrior and a druid. He was taught magic, poetry, and the arts of survival.

Fionn learned also from druid Finegas. Finegas captured the Salmon of Knowledge and Fionn cooked it. He burned his thumb on the fish and sucked on it, giving him the gift of wisdom. When Fionn wanted to gain insight to a problem he would put his thumb into his mouth, behind his molars and contemplate.

Fionn later went on to become captain of the Finana, an army of men loyal to the High King Fiachadh (fee-a-kuh). Fionn implemented a code of honor among them, changing the Fianna from an unruly band to a group of champions of the people. The Fianna became models of chivalry and justice. Some claim that the tales of the Fianna formed the basis of the legends of the Knights of the Round Table.

Fionn is also the ancient Protector of Éire, the mystical name of Ireland. Fionn was the father of the Irish hero Oisín, by the goddess Sadb. Fionn battled many mundane and supernatural foes including a Scottish giant and his greatest enemy of all, the Dark Druid. Details of his death are sketchy and many contradict each other. Some say he is not dead at all but merely waits for Ireland to need him. When Éire is in its greatest need he will return.

Special Notes: Fionn generally avoids overt magical use. He knows some spells (as needed by the Director) and performs them when he must through the use of poem or song, though he is not as powerful in this respect as his son Oisín, considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest Occult Poets. Fionn prefers to use his magic in a more passive role, for healing or discovery. This however does not make him a pacifist, far from it, Fionn enjoys to defeat his enemies in combat either by weapon or hand to hand.

As a protector Fionn is allowed to use Magical Flourishes and may use any Magical Defence maneuver.

Name: Fionn Mac Cumhail
Protector of Éire
Character Type: Hero
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 4, Constitution 5, Intelligence 3, Perception 3, Willpower 4
Ability Scores: Muscle 14, Combat 17, Brains 12
Life Points: 64
Drama Points: 5
Qualities: Attractiveness +1, Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill 6, Honorable (Rigid), Magic 6, Nerves of Steel, Occult Poet, Protector of Éire (Ireland)
Drawbacks: Adversary (Dark Druid and others) 5, Archaic (in 20th Century)
Skills: Use Brains Score for Occultism and Wild Card (Herbal Remedies)
Maneuvers
Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 17 Defense action
Grapple 19 Resisted by Dodge
Kick 16 14 Bash
Punch 17 13 Bash
Big Sword 17 29 Stab/slash; two-handed

Notes: Fionn appeared in the first published Buffy RPG Adventure, the Dark Druid. He has been updated to the Ghosts of Albion RPG here.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fionn_mac_Cumhaill

Cú Chulainn
Hero of the Ulster Cycle (The Red Branch, The Cattle Raid of Cooley), the Hound of Chulainn
Protector of Éire, Manx and Alba

Known as in his early childhood as Sétanta, the boy who would be Cú Chulainn was already the fairest and strongest in the land. Even at the age of seven Sétanta would enter into battle and invoke his ríastrad to defeat enemies three times his age and twice his size. Tutored by the bard and occult poet Amerigan as well as the druid Cathbad, it was predicted that he would be Ulsters greatest warrior. It was also foretold that his life would be a short one and that its beginning and ending would be marked by the death of a dog.
The first dog was one of the great hounds of the blacksmith Chulainn. Stanta was visiting the smith on the invite of his fosterer King Conchobar MacNessa. Conchobar though forgot to let Chulainn know and he released his guard hounds. Stanta was attacked, but he managed to kill it with a hurley ball. Devestated at the loss of his prized hounds, Chulainn demanded retribution. Sétanta, already honorable beyond his years offered to rear a new hound for him and until such time the hound was ready he himself would be his guard dog. From that point on he was known as Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Chulainn.

Worried that Cú Chulainn will steal their wives and daughters now that he is of marring age, the elders of Ulster decide that he should be sent to train with the fierce warrior woman of Alba, Scáthach, the Shadowy-one. In Alba Cú Chulainn learns not only the skills to become a master warrior, he also impregnates Scáthach, her daughter and Alfie, Scáthach’s mortal enemy and sister. Each bare him a son in due course.

Cú Chulainn returns to Ulster and has many more battles and adventures (and sons).
For more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%BAchulainn

Cú Chulainn first was called by Éire at age seven to become her Protector. Though mostly associated with Ulster (Northern Ireland) his adventures took him all over. His training by, and his command over, Scáthach earned him the Protector of Alba (Scotland) as well. His defeat of Alfie gained him the Protectorship of Manx.
Like Fionn, Cú Chulainn learned his magic from bards, ovates and druids. He often sings his spells when going into battle. Again, like Fionn, Cú Chulainn prefers to be more physical.

His greatest weapon is the Gáe Bolg, or great spear. The skill to use this devastating weapon is only know to Scáthach. She at first refused to teach it, but was overcome with Cú Chulainns resolve to learn it. He had also by this time impregnated her daughter so she demanded he stay. The Gáe Bolg is a heavy spear that can be used as a melee weapon (min STR 4) or a throwing weapon (min STR 5). What makes this weapon so awful is the spear blade is formed with many barbs so that removing the spear causes even more damage, represented by the number of Success Levels from the attack.

Name: Cú Chulainn
Protector of Éire, Manx and Alba
Character Type: Master
Attributes: Strength 6/9*, Dexterity 4, Constitution 3/6*, Intelligence 4, Perception 3, Willpower 5
Life Points: 64/94
Drama Points: 5
Qualities: Attractiveness +4, Fast Reaction Time, Gáe Sidhe, Hard to Kill 6/8*, Honorable (Rigid), Magic 7, Nerves of Steel, Protector of Éire (Ireland), Manx and Alba (Scotland), Ríastrad*
Drawbacks: Adversary 5, Geas (the death of a dog will end his life, 5), Geas (must accept any dinner invitation offered to him, 5)
Skills: Armed Mayhem 9
Maneuvers
Name Score Damage Notes
Gáe Bolg 13 28/40* Removing spear causes an extra 12+SL points
Damage
(thrown) 12 21/30
Dodge 13 - Defense action
Grapple 15 - Resisted by Dodge

New Quality

Ríastrad
5 Point Quality
Ríastrad, or Warp Spasm, is a type of supernatural attack in which the attack can go into a berserk sort of rage. During a ríastrad the attackers Strength and Constitution are increased by 3 each, with an additional 2 levels of Hard to Kill (with corresponding increase in Life Points). Attractiveness though drops to -3 regardless of what the previous level was. In addition the ríastrad will cause the attacker to attack everyone, friend and foe alike.
To enter ríastrad the attacker must be excited, that is to see blood or an army massing. A failed fear check might be enough to push someone into a ríastrad against their will.
Once in the throws of the ríastrad the attacker’s body twists and bloats. Arms and legs become huge with tendons and veins visible under the skin. Their hair sticks out in chaotic directions, eyes bulge an pop out while their tongues look engorged with blood. The scene is frightful enough that friends and foes alike must make a fear check.
The attacker then my attack, usually running into the direction they were facing and randomly attacking all. Only a difficult Will test can calm the attacker down.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warp_spasm

Gáe Sidhe is detailed in the Ghosts of Albion corebook.

New Drawback

Geas
1-5 point Drawback
A Geas (Gesa) is a magical taboo that has it roots in the Celtic tradition. A cast member must always follow his Geas or a calamity will occur. The nature of this calamity should be up to the Director, but it should never personally be life threatening. Unlike a curse the Geased person can violate the taboo by force of will, but must pay the price.
A Geas of 1 point is something the character is never likely to break or has minor consequences, such as never owning a black cat or violate it to be overcome with a fit of coughing. A 5 point should be something that the cast member cannot avoid, such as always accepting any invitation to dinner offered, or something life threatening.
The player and the director can work out the details of the Geas. How did the cast member become Geased? Is it magical taint? Karmic debt? They must also figure out how the Geas needs to be paid off. The director should not allow the player to buy off the Geas with points, they must actually do something; like lay the bones of a long dead relative to rest, or travel to some distant land and bring back some water from a sacred stream. Or maybe there is a time limit, such as when they reach their 30th birthday.
In the case of C Chulainn he could not avoid his Geas and it did end up killing him in the end. He is offered dinner by his enemy Lugaid who feeds him dog meat. This breaking of his Gesa manifests by removing the power of the Protector from him. He is then defeated in battle by Lugaid.


Brigit of Kildare
Protector of Éire

"A Bhrigid, scar os mo chionn, do bhrat fionn dom anacal."
- Traditional prayer to Brighid

The Goddess Brighid is one of the most beloved by the Celtic people. Every year they celebrated her feast day, Imbolc, to celebrate the return of spring.

Brighid, also known as Brigit, Brigantia, Bridget, or Bride, is the Celtic Goddess of the rivers and rural life. She is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery and Wisdom. She was the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was the wife of Bres of the Fomorians, with whom she had a son, Ruadn (the Red).

Brighid is one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people, with some saying that there are three Brigits: one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts.

Once the Christians came to Ireland the Goddess Brighid was not forgotten, but her worshippers favored the new Christian God.

Later in the very center of Brighid's worship center, Cill Dara ("Kildare"), a woman of God was born. Her name became Brigid.

Here, as a nun Brigid of Kildare performed miracles, healed and taught. All the things that pagan Brighid had done. When she had done enough in this world she left and was made one of the Patron Saints of Ireland.

Brighid as a Protector
Not all Patron Saint were Protectors and visa versa, but in Ireland there was a great sense of pride and of belonging with the land. This was land of the Goddess and she choose her own Protectors. Like Patrick, Brigid was very much a part of Ireland. It is natural then that Ireland Protector, a land that never fought against the Christian conversion, would choose to exemplars of it's faith to lead it into the next age.

Brighid as the Protector embraces both halves of the heart of Ireland, the Christian and the Pagan.

Name: Brighid of Kildare
Motivation: Protect her worshippers, Christian and Pagan
Creature Type: Protector, Goddess or an Irish Saint, hard to say really
Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 9, Constitution 9, Intelligence 6, Perception 8, Willpower 9
Ability Scores: Muscle 18, Combat 18, Brains 22
Life Points: 88
Drama Points: 5
Special Abilities: Aspects (Fire, Healing, Water, Wisdom), Age (Ancient), Immortal(?), Iron Mind, Hard to Kill 6, Magic 9, Regeneration (2 Lifepoints per turn), Supernatural Senses (Empathy, Insight, the Sight)
Maneuvers
Name;Score;Damage;Notes
Dodge;18;;Defense Action
Grapple;21;;Resisted by Dodge
Kick;17;19;Bash
Punch;18;18;Bash
Sword;18;24;Slash/stab
Spell;22;by spell type

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brighid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Brigid

New Quality
Blessed of Brighid
1 Point Quality
Prerequisites: Must have red hair; taken only during character creation (or by special Director permission).
In Ireland is said that those marked by Brighid lead charmed lives.  They can usually be spotted by their firey red hair.
The Blessed of Brighid can do one of the following once per day.
1. Aspect of Three.  The player may roll three (3) dice (d10) for any one roll made and choose the more favorable of the outcomes.
2. Add 3 to any one roll. The player may add 3 points to any one roll made in a day.  The choice can be made after the roll is done.
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