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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Uncertain Monsters

Still working on the Ranks of the Undead. One of the things that slowed me down on Our Infernal Neighbors and now on this one is I wind up adding more material than planned. For example, I'm not just adding undead varieties in between the existing undead in the LBBs, I'm actually writing altered versions of all the undead. Not part of the original plan, but it meshes better with the new concept (undead that grow and change, which can be used for PC undead.)

Also, it lets me include some tweaks. For example, a vampire's aversion to garlic or mirrors is handled as Turn Undead, treating non-clerics as a cleric of half their level. But so is the rule about thresholds: a living being commands a vampire not to enter, and that is treated as Turn Undead. So is running water: vampires can cross it normally, but if a living being is on the other side of a stream, they can command a vampire not to cross the boundary.

But one of the more controversial things I'm doing is making vampire destruction methods open to experimentation. Here is what I wrote today:

"Vampire killers should check with a sage for the exact procedure [for killing a vampire permanently], or try what they think will work (staking and beheading, binding with thorns, drenching in holy water, burning to ashes.) Treat as another Command Undead attempt; if the command fails, the vampire rises again, and that procedure will never work on any vampire."

I suppose I should note that once vampire hunters stumble on the correct procedure, it will work without a Command Undead test on future vampires, but I think the intention is clear: not all the details for vampires are fixed, but may be decided during play. Not only may vampires in your world be completely different from those in mine, they may wind up completely different from what you were expecting. You may have players try several times to kill a vampire before stumbling on some really weird procedure, like shaving its head before beheading it and bathing the head in honey.

Or maybe not that weird. I may have to write a Random Sage Advice on Killing Vampires table.


  1. All really excellent. I think anyone with the proper heart and equipment ought to have some chance to turn undead. The ancillary prohibitions on vampires being treated as turn undead attempts is a stroke of genius.

    Evolving undead is something I heard about happening, I think in Minneapolis. It's a crazy cool idea.

    I give you a hard time here because you can take it and keep producing excellent content.

    But there's one thing I think you could consider: is there a procedure for turning Canadians?

    1. The procedure to turn Canadien is known only to draft dodgers.

      I'd heard about a campaign Old Geezer played in that had evolving undead. That's where I got the idea. It's quite possible the campaign was in Minneapolis.

  2. The Van Richten's Guides to (X) were all about investigating the titular monstrs weaknesses and means of destruction , with the underlying idea that not all vampires/ghosts/werecreatures should always be the same.

    1. Hadn't read those. But I bet they assumed the GM would alter the monster features before the game begins. I'm suggesting that the GM should be in the dark, too. Maybe no one will ever know how to kill a vampire. Vampire legends from different countries had different methods of killing the vampire. I believe it was the Spanish vampire that had no known method of slaying. Maybe the Spanish just never found the right combo...