It’s been a long night at the bar and you’ve had a few more than you planned, plus a couple extra. A few clumsy steps out onto the sidewalk assure you that it’s a sloppy kind of manageable. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s hangover gets a head start when your comm unit begins buzzing with an obnoxious little jingle and an automated message.
Something like an exaggerated funeral dirge plays as a voice in a Common accent that you can’t quite place cheerfully chimes in. “Hey there, rosy cheeks! Have you had a THIRST for the night life? Have you ever wanted to sink your TEETH into something grand? Thanks to new innovations in necrogra-“ the message cuts off as you unlock your device and minimize the volume. It’s bad enough that you have to live this close to Eox and it’s decomposing population, but the few neighborhoods with real living people have ad-drones buzzing every device in range with their disgusting commercials.
You take an early turn between two service garages, hoping that the thick walls interfere with the broadcasts, but you’re barely a dozen places in when you turn another corner and stumble right into a trio of locals. Young adults, thankfully as flushed and lively as you are, with a Kuthite’s worth of piercings between them and clothes that are ratty in a trendy sort of way. “Oh hey, what’s up?” one of them asks.
It takes you a moment to recover, and another moment to work your word-slurry into an intelligible response, but his audible sniffing cuts you off. “Looks like you’ve had a lot to drink, friend.” He grins, his fangs glistening. “I’m thinkin’ we might have a few pints ourselves…”
He laughs. His friends laugh. You take a step back. More voices behind you laugh.
Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog that offers a good vintage of flavor and mechanics on the bleeding edge of development. This time, I’ll be making a sort of follow up to my last article about vampires with a special twist. And thanks to certain ideas still bouncing around in my head, I’m going to make this one extra special. You’ve possibly heard of vampire grafts for monsters, but let’s make a more literal vampire graft for player characters.
Embrace of the Night
Recent developments in custom necrografts have led to the creation of multiple augmentations that are meant to directly interface with one another, drastically altering the user while granting them new abilities. One particular collection, dramatically titled “night’s embrace,” was created to simulate abilities commonly used by vampires. Night’s embrace is a matching set of necrografts that are installed in the heart, skin, throat, stomach, and brain. While they have a collective cost and are all installed during the same surgery, they still count as multiple necrografts for all purposes of using multiple necrografts and the associated drawbacks.
The levels and cost of each model are as follows.
Mk 1, level 1, 800
Mk 2, level 6, 16,000
Mk 3, level 12, 120,000
Mk 4, level 18, 1,400,000
Mk 5, level 20, 3,100,000
Each recipient of night’s embrace gains some form of a bite attack. This usually comes in the form of fangs, but may take the shape of a circular mouth lined with teeth, a tentacle tongue with a barbed sucker, or something even stranger. Mk1 allows the recipient to make unarmed strikes that deal piercing damage that no longer count as archaic. Mk 2 allows your bite to function as the vesk natural weapons ability. Mk 3 allows your bite to deal persistent bleed damage, as per the Wounding rune. Mk 4 elongates your fangs, granting your bite the Grab universal monster rule. Mk 5 increases the persistent bleed damage to 2d6.
Night’s embrace also modifies the metabolism of its recipients, making it so that they only need the blood of the living to survive. Feeding on a restrained, unconscious, or willing creature takes 10 minutes and causes the creature to lose 1 Resolve point if it has any, or deals 2 Constitution damage if they do not. Feeding on an unwilling creature requires the user to damage a creature with their bite attack while grappling them. Each time the recipient feeds from a significant enemy or ally of a similar level, they regain a number of hit points equal to the necrografts’ mark. The user may only regain hit points in this way one per creature per day.
As a part of the creation process of this collection of grafts, portions of small bats (or other creatures of personal significance) are carefully prepared and implanted into the epidermal layers of the user’s body. The user may spend one Resolve point as a standard action to pump blood into these creatures and temporarily reanimate them in a gruesome, if painless, display. Unless stated otherwise, these effects last one minute. Mk 1 grants the user 20% concealment. Mk 2 instead grants 40% concealment and grants half as much to any ally within 5 feet. Mk 3 grants you a fly speed of 30 feet (average maneuverability). Mk 4 allows you to attack with the swarm, granting the reach property to your bite attack. Mk 5 allows you to completely disperse into bats as a reaction when brought to 0 hit points, granting effects identical to swarm defenses and orc ferocity for one round.
With a strong affinity for undeath, the user has certain protections, even if it isn’t as strong as the real deal. The recipient of night’s embrace has a bonus to saving throws equal to the necrografts’ mark against disease, exhaustion, fatigue, mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. They also gain resistance to negative energy damage and nonlethal damage equal to twice the necrografts’ mark.
Of course, having such an extensive modification has its own downsides as well. As the parts for these necrografts are harvested from from vampires and their victims, many of their weaknesses affect the user as well.
- If the user has not sufficiently fed themselves within the last 24 hours, their body struggles to hold itself together and they do not regain Resolve from resting.
- When exposed to direct sunlight without environmental protection, the user becomes staggered and takes 1d6 damage per mark of the necrografts each round.
- The unique nature of night’s embrace means that it has the faintest hint of a self-preservation instinct. If it is fully removed by any means other than upgrading to a better model, it preserves itself by syphoning the host’s vital essence. This preserves the necrografts, but kills the host.
And there we have it. A nice little way to play as a ‘vampire’ in your game without having to build rules from scratch or lie to yourself about it. Heck, if you throw in last week’s delve into augmentation culture, you’ve got enough of a baseline to run a whole story! And speaking of running, the month of October is running along quite nicely. I’d say I’ve got something extra spooky up my sleeve, but horror is par for the course with this kind of blog. Tune in next time and maybe I’ll cook up a Halloween special.