Gothic Vampires?


Emperor Mongoose
I've been playing around with some expanded rules for vampires for a Gothic Horror setting that I'm playing around with. Here are some rough notes that I've started pulling together. Note that these assume a very traditional view of vampirism suitable for a master villain in the style of Dracula. Obviously, these notes are still very rough and have not yet been edited for publication, but if there is sufficient interest I may pull them into a Gothic Legends sourcebook and release them as Open Game Content for other people to use as they see fit. In the meantime, I'd appreciate any feedback that people have:

Undead Resilience
Vampires are immune to many hazards. They ignore Combat Manoeuvres targeting vital organs or relying on physiological shock (Bleed, Impale, Stun Location, Maximise Damage, etc.). The hit locations of a vampire are not rendered useless when their Hit Points drop to zero. The injuries may look gruesome, but they do not destroy the affected Hit Location.

Major Wounds never incapacitate a vampire, but they may slow it down. If any Hit Location loses more than double its Hit Points, halve the vampire's Move and Strike Rank until the damage heals. Severed limbs crumble to ash in seconds. A vampire can regrow lost appendages if enough blood is available. For each Major Wound inflicted, increase the difficulty of all Persistence tests to resist Blood Frenzy by one level.

The unholy durability of vampires enables them to shrug off the worst effects of crippling injuries. Ordinary attacks cannot stun a Vampire or knock it unconscious. Vampires receive a +50% bonus to Persistence rolls to resist physical pain or torture. The exception is if the injury is caused by one of their supernatural vulnerabilities (such as fire or sunlight). Vampires never expire from internal injuries. But blood loss can force them into slumber.

There are a few important exceptions to these rules. Vampires are susceptible to decapitation by edged weapons that inflict a Major Wound on the Head hit location. The weaknesses section provides rules for decapitation. Impaling a vampire through the heart with a wooden stake or similar weapon immobilizes it. And a vampire is destroyed if it suffers an amount of damage equal to CON x 3 from a single source (e.g. a large explosion or being buried under tons of falling rubble).

Vampires are immune to metabolic effects such as poison, disease and radiation. They do not need to breathe and cannot be suffocated or drowned.

Vampires ignore most mind-influencing spells and supernatural effects, with the exception of those that specifically target undead entities. However, they are susceptible to mental domination by other vampires if the other vampire possesses a higher Age Category. Vampires are also immune to most necromantic influences – notably those that result in magical ageing or that drain the life force of a victim.

Blood Drain
Vampires do not regenerate hit points or magic points. Instead, they must steal the life force from living beings by draining their blood.

To drink the blood of an unwilling victim, the vampire must make a successful Unarmed attack. On a successful bite attack, a vampire drains 1D6 Magic Points from the victim per combat action. Each point of drained Magic Point gives the vampire one hit point or magic point (vampires’ choice).

If a Vampire drains an individual’s Magic Points to 0, the victim falls unconscious. The vampire can continue to drain the victim's blood. But it it begins stealing permanent POW from the victim rather than Magic Points. If the victim’s permanent POW is reduced to zero, they die at the end of the round.

Vampires can use stolen blood to increase their Magic Points up to a value equal to their CHA+6. Thus a vampire with a CHA of 12 could use stolen blood to increase their Magic Points as high as 18. Vampires do not recover spent Magic Points through rest or meditation. Feeding upon the blood of mortals is the only way that they can regain spent Magic Points.

If stolen Magic Points raise the vampire's total above its POW, excess points vanish at a rate of 1 per minute. A vampire who has drained enough blood to raise its Magic Points above its POW is temporarily sated. A sated vampire gains a +50% modifier to all Persistence rolls to resist hunger. The victim can recover lost magic points using the normal rules.

Whilst feeding, the vampire and its victim must remain within a 1m radius of each other. The vampire's bite has a reach of touch (T), so it must be very close to its prey. Vampires prefer to expose victim's throat before feeding. Although a vampire's fangs can penetrate normal clothing, they cannot penetrate armour heavier than soft leather.

A vampire cannot move whilst feeding and suffers a -20% penalty to Perception rolls to detect danger (such as somebody sneaking up behind them). This penalty is doubled (-40%) if the vampire is starving and tripled (-60%) if the vampire is in the grip of a blood frenzy.

A vampire must make a Persistence roll to voluntarily stop feeding on a sentient victim who is still alive. This is a free action, but can only be attempted on the vampire's turn. The vampire receives a +40% bonus to this roll if they are in immediate danger, but there is always a risk that instinct will overpower conscious thought. If the vampire fails this roll, it cannot resist the intense urge to drink more of the victim's blood. In this situation, the vampire must continue feeding either until it successfully pulls itself away or the victim dies. On a fumble, the vampire enters a blood frenzy while feeding and cannot voluntarily stop until it has drained the last drop of their blood. A vampire in blood frenzy uses lethal force to resist any attempts to separate it from its chosen prey.

Vampires cannot gain any sustenance from solid food or drink any fluids other than blood. A vampire who consumes solid food or fluids other than blood must make at a Resilience roll at -40%. If the vampire fails this Resilience test, they must violently expel the ingested material. The vampire suffers 1 point of damage to the chest location when this occurs. A vampire can keep normal food or drink down for a duration equal to their CON in rounds. Vampires can benefit from magic potions and other alchemical preparations. But they will vomit them back up unless they mix a small quantity of blood with the solution.

Vampires can only drain blood from living creatures. They cannot derive sustenance from constructs, elementals, plants, and other undead creatures. But vampires can feed upon their own kind. Vampire factional struggles often end in cannibalistic slaughter. The victors usually feast upon the blood of the vanquished. Draining blood from another vampire gives the feeder a distinctive “taint”. Other vampires can sense this taint with a successful Insight roll. This taint is perceptible for a number of nights equal to 3 x the number of Magic Points drained.

Vampires can survive indefinitely on the blood of non-sentient creatures. But this is not satisfying. Each night that a vampire feeds on the blood of a creature with a fixed INT, it acquires a cumulative -5% penalty to tests to resist blood frenzy. This penalty ends when the vampire drains Magic Points equal to half its POW from a sentient victim. Vampires forced to live on the blood of rats or similar vermin slowly devolve into a feral state. After a few weeks, they are likely to attack the first sentient creature that strays near.

Blood Healing
Vampires can use stolen blood to heal injuries suffered. Activating this ability requires expenditure of a Combat Action. Each Magic Point spent heals one point of damage to a single hit location. The maximum number of Magic Points a vampire can spend to heal itself each round is equal to CON divided by 5 (rounded down).

Vampires can recover from gruesome wounds in seconds. They can even regenerate lost body parts or remove the effects of Major Wounds. Regenerating a lost limb costs double the number of Magic Points required to heal the damage inflicted on that Hit Location. This is the only way that vampires can regrow lost body parts. Severed limbs crumble to ash seconds after separation from the vampire.

Vampires cannot use stolen blood to quickly heal damage inflicted by fire or sunlight. They can only spend one Magic Point each hour to heal a point of damage inflicted by these sources. It can take a vampire several nights to recover from the disfiguring burns caused by sunlight. During this period, the vampire's thirst is heightened. It may seek prey to steal the blood necessary to heal.

The Black Embrace
The bite of a vampire causes mortals to fall into a languorous ecstasy. Adventurers bitten by a vampire must make a Persistence roll at -20% or succumb to the black embrace. The victim can take no action other than to lie supine in the vampire's arms while it feeds. Once the vampire releases the victim, the mortal is disoriented for 1d4 rounds. During this period, halve the strike rank and movement of the victim. The victim suffers a -20% penalty to all actions until the disorientation passes.

The experience of being fed upon by a vampire is dangerously addictive. Each successive night that a vampire feeds upon an individual, the victim gains a cumulative -10% penalty to resist the Black Embrace. If the penalty reaches -100%, the victim becomes addicted to the sensation. At this point, they can no longer resist that particular vampire.

Vampires find the scent of fresh blood intoxicating and will do anything to consume it. Whenever a vampire is in the presence of human blood, it must make a Persistence roll to retain self-control. Failure means that the vampire suffers a ravenous feeding frenzy and will attempt to gorge itself on the source of the blood, using force if necessary. Vampires receive a +20% bonus to rolls to resist a blood frenzy if they have fed within the last hour. Double this bonus if the vampire's current Magic Point total is greater than its POW.

Vampire Blood
A mortal who tastes the blood of a vampire suffers a -10% penalty to all Persistence tests to resist the vampire’s powers. This effect lasts for a number of hours equal to the vampire’s CHA. Some vampires mix a few drops of their own blood with wine or food offered to those they intend to seduce. Once the victim consumes the blood, it weakens their resolve and makes them more susceptible to the influence of the vampire. Other vampires can make an Perception roll to detect that the mortal has tasted the blood of another vampire and an Insight roll to determine which vampire’s blood was consumed.

Vampire blood sizzles and boils when exposed to direct sunlight, evaporating in seconds. Vampire blood is caustic while boiling away, affecting living flesh that comes into contact with it like concentrated acid. If a sample of vampire blood is placed in a glass vial, the container explodes 2d6 seconds after being placed in sunlight. This inflicts 1 point of damage on all hit locations.

Blood Thralls
If a vampire feeds a mortal small amounts of its blood, it can gradually enslave the victim to its will. After the third feed, the mortal gains a motivation to “serve their vampire owner” with a strength equal to the vampire's Persistence. If the vampire continues to feed the mortal small quantities of its blood, the strength of this bond will increase. Each time that a vampire feeds its blood thrall, the strength of the victim's allegiance to its vampire owner increases by +10%. If the vampire stops feeding its thrall regular doses of its blood, the strength of the victim's allegiance will slowly fade, dropping by -10% per week until the mortal recovers their free will. However, a vampire who feeds a victim blood each night for an extended period can gradually raise the thrall's allegiance score above 100%. At this point, the effects are permanent and the victim no longer loses allegiance if the vampire does not feed it regularly. In effect, the victim is permanently enslaved to the will of their vampire owner.

If the victim wishes to disobey the urgings of this thralldom, she must win a contest between her own Persistence and the strength of her Allegiance to her new master.

A mortal can consume blood from more than one vampire, gaining multiple allegiance scores to different undead masters. If the mortal receives conflicting orders from two vampires whose blood she has tasted, roll a contest between the Allegiance scores to determine which takes precedence. Furthermore, as soon as any of these allegiances is raised above 100% all of the others instantly drop to zero – the victim's absolute devotion to her new owner simply blots out all lesser ties.

Dark Vision
Vampires can see up to 50m even in absolute darkness when no light source is available. They never suffer penalties to vision-based Perception rolls due to the effects of shadow or darkness. This ability does not enable the vampire to see anything that they could not see otherwise—invisible objects are still invisible, and illusions are still visible as what they seem to be. The presence of light does not spoil this ability.

Blood Sense
As a combat action, a vampire can sense the presence of living creatures within a radius equal to 3 x POW in meters. With a successful Perception roll, the vampire can pinpoint the location of creatures within this area (including hidden or concealed individuals). If the vampire cannot see these individuals, it may be able to hear their heartbeats and smell the distinctive scent of their blood. The vampire may make an Insight roll to identify specific individuals if it has previously tasted their blood.

A vampire's Blood Sense can only detect living creatures that possess blood – it cannot detect the presence of spirits, artificial constructs, or other undead. Nor can it detect the presence of extraplanar creatures such as demons. A vampire must concentrate whilst using this ability and cannot move or perform other actions requiring conscious thought while doing so. If the vampire is forced to defend itself while using its Blood Sense, its concentration is broken unless it makes a Persistence check with a -20% penalty.

When using Blood Sense, the vampire must win an opposed check between its Perception and the Stealth of any opponents actively attempting to conceal themselves from it. However, this opposed check is in addition to any rolls to locate the hidden opponents using mundane senses – in effect, the blood sense gives the vampire a second change to locate living creatures.

Vampires suffer a self-control penalty for 1d4+1 rounds after activating their Blood Sense as it awakens the predatorial instincts within them. The vampire suffers a -20% penalty to any Persistence rolls required to resist Blood Frenzy during this period.

Kiss of Darkness
Any vampire whose age category is Mature or greater may attempt to transform a mortal into a fledgling vampire. Younger vampires cannot sire offspring in this manner because their blood is not yet potent enough to trigger the transformation.

In order to sire a fledgling, the vampire must slowly drain the mortal's blood until the mortal's permanent POW is reduced to zero. The vampire must use its next Combat Action to feed the victim some of its own blood, expending 2d6 Magic Points in the process. If the vampire does not possess sufficient Magic Points, the transformation automatically fails and the victim dies. If the vampire expends the necessary Magic Points, the victim unholy transformation will begin.

For the next three nights, the victim will lie motionless as though dead. In many cases, the victim may be buried. At this point, the transformation is irreversible – the victim cannot be restored to mortality by anything short of divine intervention. Attempts to resurrect the victim will automatically fail.

When a human is transformed into a vampire, they gains all of the powers and weaknesses of the new state. Upon rising from the grave, the POW of the fledgling vampire is permanently reduced to 0 and its Magic Points are temporarily reduced to 1. The new vampire must feed within 1d4 hours or collapse from starvation. The fledgling vampire suffers a -50% penalty to Persistence rolls to resist feeding frenzy until they has restored her Magic points to its original value. In this state, they are likely to attack any mortal foolish enough to approach them.

A fledgling vampire gains the strength of the damned, receiving a permanent +6 bonus to their STR and CON. The Damage Bonus and Hit Points of the vampire should be recalculated to reflect their supernatural strength and durability.

Vampires have the ability to shapeshift into mist at will. As a Combat Action, vampires may dissolve into a cloud of thin, greenish fog whose SIZ is double that of the vampire in the flesh. This mist is obviously unnatural. Non-living items (such as clothing) in direct contact with the vampire may also be transformed into mist, provided that their ENC is no greater than the vampires STR / 3 (rounded down).

In mist form, vampires are immune to physical damage, but cannot take any actions except movement. Vampires in mist form move at the same speed as in their normal form and are unaffected by light winds. A Resilience roll may be required to avoid suffering 1 point of damage per round to each Hit Location each round from gale-force winds.

Gravity affects vampires in mist form and they must remain in contact in with the ground or similar surface at all times, although the mist can perform seemingly unnatural actions such as flowing uphill or moving against the prevailing winds. Vampires do not suffer falling damage in mist form and can use this ability to quickly descend cliffs or similar hazards. However, mist form does not grant the power of levitation and vampires cannot use it to float across canyons or similar terrain obstacles. They can pass over surfaces (such as water) that would not support their normal weight.

Vampires can pass through small cracks or porous materials in mist form. Vampires can pass through openings no narrower than SIZ / 4 as a free action. However, they must spend a Combat Action to pass through tiny openings such as a keyhole or the crack under a door.

Whilst in mist form, vampires still take damage from sunlight and fire as per the normal rules. Additionally, the damage inflicted upon the vampire by exposure to holy water or consecrated ground is doubled while it is in mist form. A vampire is immune to physical attacks and suffers no damage from holy symbols and sanctified weapons – although they can still be used to hold it at bay.

As well as the ability to transform into mist, some vampires manifest the ability to shapeshift into wolves and bats as well. As with the mist transformation, such changes take a Combat Action to perform.

Dark Majesty
Vampires are the lords of the undead. They can control mindless undead creatures such as skeletons and zombies. The targets of this ability must have an INT and POW less than 3.

A vampire must spend 1 Magic Point to establish mental control over a single undead thrall. The target must be within a radius in meters equal to the vampire's POW. Additionally, the vampire must be able to see the target. If the target is already under the control of somebody else, the vampire must win an opposed test against the owner's Persistence. The maximum number of mindless undead thralls a vampire can command is equal to their CHA. By default, a vampire's control over an undead thrall lasts for a number of hours equal to the vampire's INT. But if the vampire spends another magic point, they can extend the duration.


Unholy Thirst
Vampires must expend supernatural energy to sustain their existence. They must consume blood regularly or weaken as a result of starvation. Vampires automatically lose 1 Magic Point every night at the stroke of midnight. This cannot be prevented by mundane or magical means. If this reduces the vampire's current Magic Points to a level equal to or less than its CON divided by 5 (rounded down), it is starving and gains a level of Fatigue that cannot be removed until it consumes an amount fresh blood sufficient to raise its Magic Points above this threshold. Starving vampires suffer a penalty to Persistence rolls to resist Blood Frenzy, in addition to any situational modifiers that may apply. A vampire whose Magic Points are reduced to 0 as a result of starvation falls dormant, collapsing into a comatose state. The starving vampire does not die, but remains unconscious and immobile until it is fed sufficient blood to raise its Magic Points to a positive value.

Vampires automatically suffer damage each Combat Round to every Hit Location exposed to natural sunlight, though some risk brief exposure by wearing layers of clothing and a hooded cloak to cover as much of their body as possible.

Hit Locations exposed to sunlight suffer an amount of damage based on the Fire and Heat table (Legend Rulebook, p84). A momentary exposure to sunlight inflicts 1 point of damage on each exposed Hit Location. Each additional Combat Round of exposure increases the effective Intensity of the damage inflicted by one level on the Fire and Heat table – on the second Combat Round the vampire suffers damage equivalent to a large flame (1d4), on the third Combat Round the vampire suffers damage equivalent to a small fire (1d6), on the fourth Combat Round the vampire suffers damage equivalent to a large fire (2d6), and on the fifth and subsequent Combat Rounds the vampire suffers damage equivalent to an inferno (3d6). The damage is applied to each exposed Hit Location separately. If a vampire is fully exposed to direct sunlight all hit locations suffer damage simultaneously. The damage from the sunlight is applied every Combat Round until the vampire manages to escape to the shadows.

If a single Hit Location suffers damage from exposure sunlight for three or more consecutive Combat Rounds, adjacent Hit Locations begin to suffer damage using the same progression – starting with a single point of damage.

If the vampire is exposed to sunlight indirectly or if conditions are overcast, reduce the damage progression by one round. In this case, on the first Combat Round the vampire suffers no damage, on the second Combat Round it suffers 1 point of damage to each exposed Hit Location, on the third Combat Round it suffers 1d4 points of damage to each exposed Hit Location, on the fourth Combat Round it suffers 1d6 points of damage, and so forth. If the vampire ventures into sunlight at dawn or sunset when twilight conditions prevail, reduce the damage progression by two rounds.

A vampire wearing protective clothing (such as a hooded cloak, gloves, and the like) reduces the damage progression by two rounds. The vampire can venture into sunlight for up to two Combat Rounds with no harmful effects (although it must still resist the overwhelming urge to flee back to the shadows).

Damage progression modifiers are cumulative, so a cloaked and hooded vampire who ventures into sunlight on an overcast day and sticks to the shadows will not suffer any damage for the first three Combat Rounds.

Vampires have a supernatural dread of sunlight and must make a Persistence roll whenever they glimpse it – even if they suffer no harm. Vampires who fail this roll are overwhelmed with unreasoning terror and can take no actions other than to flee at their maximum movement towards the refuge of darkness. The difficulty of this roll should be adjusted by the degree of exposure – a vampire who glimpses a single ray of sunlight may make the roll at +30% while a vampire exposed to an overcast day may make a n unmodified roll.

Vampires are sluggish while the sun is in the sky. Treat vampires as though they have a Fatigue level of Exhausted if they are roused from slumber between dawn and dusk.

Holy Symbols
The holy icons of some religions prove effective against vampires. Cults that focus their energies against the undead are the most likely to be effective, though the end result is down to the Games Master to decide what supernaturally offends any particular vampire. An elven vampire, for example, might be repelled by symbols of nature gods, rather than human symbols of holiness. Any character presenting a holy symbol to a vampire as a Combat Action matches their Persistence against the vampire’s Resilience in an opposed check. They will receive bonuses or penalties at the Games Master’s discretion, based on the appropriateness of the symbol being displayed. On a successful test, the vampire loses 1D4 hit points (unaffected by armour or any of the vampire’s magic) and may not attack that character or any other character under the protection of Holy Symbol.

If a vampire is struck in the Head hit location by an edged weapon and suffers sufficient damage from a single blow to inflict a Major Wound, the attacker may spend a Combat Manoeuvre in an attempt to decapitate it. The vampire must immediately make an opposed roll of Resilience vs. the attacker’s original attack roll. If the vampire fails this opposed roll, it has been successfully decapitated. If the vampire wins an Opposed Test of Resilience versus their enemy's attack roll, the blade does not fully behead them and they can regenerate the damage normally. A decapitated vampire crumbles to ash at the end of the current round unless the severed head is (quickly!) re-attached by an ally. The dead vampire cannot be resurrected or revived by mortal magic.

NOTE: Attacker must roll a Critical Success and cause sufficient damage to inflict a Major Wound in a single blow.

Holy Water
Some divine cults teach their followers how to create holy water. Holy water is blessed by the power of the cult's deity channelled through a priest.

Holy water affects a vampire like concentrated acid. However, the maximum amount of damage inflicted by holy water to a given hit location cannot exceed the wielder’s dedicated POW. The damage is inflicted by the sanctity of the holy water, rather than any inherent property of the liquid itself. Multiple applications of holy water inflict no additional damage.

For example, a priestess who has dedicated five points of POW to the cult's deity blesses a vial of holy water, the maximum damage it can inflict on a vampire is 5 points.

A vampire that drinks holy water must resist the substance as though it were a poison with a POT of 90.

Consecrated Ground
Vampires may not enter any area that has been consecrated to the Powers of Light. This includes most shrines, churches, temples, and monasteries associated with religions opposed to the creation of undead (GM's discretion). Vampires will not willingly approach such areas, experiencing a sensation of intense discomfort as they get close to the edge of the area. Any vampire who enters consecrated ground (either deliberately or accidentally) must roll their Persistence against the Sanctity rating of consecrated area. On a successful roll, the vampire can enter the area but feels nauseated. On a failed roll, the vampire suffers 1 point of holy damage to all hit locations per round. And on a critical failure, the vampire is consumed by a blaze of holy light – instantly crumbling to ash.

Vampires and Magic

Common Magic
Vampires can learn Common Magic in the same way as mortals. However, they do not replenish Magic Points naturally and can only do so by feeding. Furthermore, certain spells are unsuitable for vampire casters.

Divine Magic
Divine Magic is a special case. Most “civilised” deities do not accept vampire followers and cults willing to do so are often persecuted. There are a number of dark gods who will embrace a vampire who has fallen from the light, but making contact with them can be difficult as such cults work hard to conceal their existence. If the vampire accepts is initiated into one of these evil cults, any remaining piety is automatically transferred to the new faith. This require a large shift in the belief system of the vampire, beginning with acceptance of their own damnation. After the conversion, the vampire must abide by the tenets of her new faith, which are likely to be callous and bloodthirsty. After the vampire has been initiated into an evil cult, she may learn Divine Magic again, but only those spells granted by powers of darkness and death. Many vampires are demon-worshipers, turning to the infernal powers for dark miracles.

Upon becoming a vampire, an individual immediately loses all powers granted by their god. As a consequence, any Divine Magic they acquired during their mortal life is irrevocably lost. Any POW dedicated to their former deity is also permanently lost – unless the vampire is initiated into a new cult within a number of nights equal to her remaining POW. In this case, their Dedicated POW is claimed by their new deity.

Spirit Magic
As undead creatures, vampires cannot learn Spirit Magic. Vampires cannot learn the advanced skills of Spirit Walking or Spirit Binding. They cannot enter the spirit world. However, malign spirits cannot engage them in spirit combat either. One reason why vampires often lair in places haunted by ghosts, wraiths, and spectres is that such evil spirits are harmless to vampires but deadly to mortals.

If a shaman is infected with vampirism, the shaman's fetch and any bound spirits are irrevocably corrupted at the moment their former owner rises from the grave. They degenerate into hungry Bane Spirits no longer under the control of the former shaman.