Design Q&A: Will there be Vampires and Werewolves?

Welcome to a new thing we'll be doing: Highlighting your game feature/design questions.  So keep the questions coming!

IchiroFuma wrote: (Oct 1 2016, youtube channel)
Is it possible that if there is a bad enough vampire problem (and one attacks you in the night while you sleep), or attacked by a werewolf, is it possible to become one? What would that mean for gameplay?

That's a great question.

Given the recent releases of D&D Curse of Strahd and Pathfinder Horror there is high interest in vampires and werewolves. The Elder Scrolls has done a good job with them as a subtext to the main game.

The short answer is that there aren't any in Archmage Rises, at least not in the core game.

(Cool pic from internet)

(Cool pic from internet)

I think you and I both agree that it should affect gameplay! So my plan is to put specific design time and features into a To Be Announced DLC addressing it thoroughly. Why DLC? Because it will take time and resources away from the main game to get these specific features right and I don't want to hold up the core game development. Current ideas:

  • Vampires & Werewolves behave differently than any other creature.  They are individuals like nobles with agendas, but they are monsters that propagate and reproduce and cause problems, dilemas, and quests.  So they are this weird inbetween thing of those two systems.  I don't want to just merge those two systems, I want to leverage them and make something new.

  • Vampirism is an entirely new way to play: 
    • Require blood and must feast at regular intervals, or risk dying.  
    • No need for food, immune to drink and typical stress relief
    • Adds new purpose behind the capture and imprisonment of NPCs, forcing the player to be more villainous. 
  • Vampires are a new monster/rival type that act in the world politics and even be a noble.  The player can expose them to cause political revolts
  • Werewolves are a new way to play, managing time between moon cycles
    New town simulation changes - Werewolves can take over an entire town and present a unique challenge to the player and other towns
  • Other new kinds of "gothic horror" curses and afflictions that can affect the player and NPCs
  • Maybe there will be a racial hatred of vampires for werewolves and vice versa.  Might be interesting to tap into
  • And maybe the vampires are super handsome, perfect boyfriends, and sparkle in sunlight. :-)

Generally I'm not a fan of horror, especially when it delves into blood, guts, and gore.  But I am a big fan of the original Frankenstein and Dracula novels.  So this, along with Strahd and Pathfinder Horror, are my primary inspiration sources. 

For instance, take Dracula.  Now let's think a bit about the culture of Europe & America of 1897 in which this book/play was released.  It was steeped in Christianity.  What does Christianity teach about death and the afterlife?

  • Hebrews 9:27
    And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
  • Revelation 20:11-15
    "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books,according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
  • And finally, Revelation 21:1-5a
    And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
     And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

So the general cultural expectation of Dracula's turn of the 20th century audience is "I die, I'm a good person, so I'm going to heaven for eternal bliss."

Now here comes Dracula, an entity that entirely breaks the universal system.

If he bites/enthralls you, you can't die.  If you can't die, you are never able to go to heaven.  You are sentenced to this weird undocumented middle ground, forever stuck in mortal torment.  That must have been so shocking at the time!

A second way it breaks the system is suddenly your actions don't matter anymore for eternal life.  There is a creature that overrules the rules. You can be good (saved) and in the book of life, but if Dracula gets you, you are eternally lost and cursed.  Not only that, but he can command you to go out and enslave others: those you know and love or strangers.  It's reverse evangelism where Dracula and his followers are spreading damnation.  

I can't think of a more horrific situation than to have eternal life and suddenly lose it through a creature's attack.  Talk about dramatic jeopardy!  It doesn't get any higher than a creature that steals your mind and eternal soul!

My point of looking more deeply into the original vampire is to show how thoughtful and culturally shocking it was.  The Dracula novel is patient and brooding, not violence, gore, or eroticism.  Dracula has to operate under some specific rules and the protagonists need to figure out what they are to defeat him.  There is very little violence in the book, I recall only a pistol and a stake near the very end. I'll never forget the evening spent in a cave surrounded by a circle of sand keep Dracula's minions at bay, waiting for the morning light.  That was epic drama!

I'm a little less versed in werewolves than vampires.  Though I have read the entire White Wolf Werewolf: The Apocalypse RPG rule book.

I plan in Archmage Rises to do something in this area familiar yet new.  Not easy. :-)  But it will take time and dedication to do it right.

What do you think:  What's good origin source material on werewolves?  
What features would you like to see in an RPG as a vampire or werewolf?
Tell me in the comments below.