What do you do when vampires show up? The old classics: garlic, holy water and crosses.
What do you do if you don’t have those things?
Looks like I wasn’t the only one who got lucky last night.
Get creative or die. If it all goes to hell, you die creatively and that’s something to be written on your tombstone.
Remember the basics. Vampires can’t enter a home uninvited. Should this happen, a quick exchange of money can fix the situation. Stables, churches and other areas are not homes. Don’t hide there without a backup plan.
Holy water is great, but grease and oil are surprising. Lock the door, grease the floor and upturn a table in the middle of the room. When the vampire smashes his way in, down he goes, ready for a nice stake.
Variation two involves spraying oil under the door as the vampire attacks it. This keeps him out for the short term.
Both of these tricks makes vampires respect locked doors.
Water is another great benefit, as are small boats. Packing a rowboat full of characters in the middle of body of water is an impenetrable barrier to blood suckers. Should they turn to gas or a bat and attack the boat this way, it can be capsized and hidden under.
Fire on a larger ship is a nightmare, but doubly so for vampires. Always burn the ship before it gets dark and well out to sea, just in case.
Seeds. Vampires have obsessions and counting is one of them. Throwing seeds is a great delaying tactic. Make sure you are not holding an envelope full of seeds labeled “144 count”. This never works.
Tying is another obsession of vampires. Braiding or unbraiding your hair can be of use. However, half of this is the delaying action and half is emphasizing your neck as a target.
Many rule sets allow for knockouts if the damage is high enough. A wand of fireballs can turn a flock of vampires flying over a moat into fish food quickly. Fireballs do more damage in confined spaces. Fireballs do not have to fired direct at a target to do damage, so fire them behind the target to knock them forwards. Or in front of them to force them back.
Always remember the game mechanics that allows you to move other characters. You can’t hurt a vampire barehanded, but boy does the sun sting if you shove them outside.
There are myriad ways of dealing with vampires. Let me know if you have any favorites.
Sometimes, deception is required for characters to make headway. If a caravan is ambushed every time there are no obvious defenders, it may be beneficial to hand the wizard a lance. Weapons, no matter how old or unserviceable maybe pressed into service for deceptive purposes. I have a house rule for this effect.
When a character is untrained with a type of weapon, but that weapon itself is unserviceable, the attacker only suffers half the normal penalty but only does half the damage. For instance, a wizard with a lance will suffer a -2 instead of a minus 4. The attacker only does 1d3 or 1d4 damage, which can be doubled for being mounted. The weapon is also dropped on impact. This modification occurs because the wielder is using a known weapon in an extraordinary way. It is not normal to fling a two-handed sword at someone’s feet or let go of a lance on impact.
Players may opt to retain the weapon, but automatically switch back to the normal -4 penalty for being untrained.
Armor can also be used in the same way, with the Armor check penalty being halved. Old, unserviceable armor is ripped away when the wearer is hit or the wearer fails a Armor check roll. Since this is really poor armor, it is easily damaged. Damaged armor still inflicts half the penalties, so characters should remove it immediately. This requires either a Dex or Str roll, at the DM’s discretion.
Another trick is Doodad Armor.
Doodad Armor is a fake armor. Typically, this deceptive armor is constructed of leather, wood and blocked felt, with metal connectors. It is very warm to wear, but far less cumbersome than real armor. It imposes one half the normal Armor check roll for the type simulated and is not destroyed when struck. However, it may show signs of distress atypical of normal armor. For example, Plate Doodad armor will show a large tear when struck by a weapon.
It functions as padded armor, no matter the type of armor simulated. This can cause an Arcane Spell Failure. Speed is unmodified by this special purpose armor, so enemies may be surprised by quick movements.
Doodad armor can also be ripped off, as it is designed to be removed quickly. This requires a Dex check.
Depending on your campaign, deceptive armor types can give a bonus one or two to grappling, as both Doodad armor and damaged armor has all kinds of extra friendly grab points to enable an attacker. The attacker would have to be aware that the armor is fake to receive a bonus. This requires either a prior strike or a Wisdom check.
One comical result is a grappler grabbing the arms of the armor and pulling, which is a Strength check. The defender can also make a strength check to rip the armor off. What happens next is usually comedy gold.
The characters have proven their worth to the Horned One. They have pursued the Hand of Light to the edges of the kingdom and captured him in a epic battle.
On this day, they will assume their Mantles of Rank during the ritual of sacrifice. The Hand of Light will be extinguished forever. The Horned One will consolidate his power with the elimination of the weak, as the prophecy foretold.
One last time, before the ceremonial shackles are transferred from the hands of the followers of the Horned One to the hands of the Light One, the enemies stand face to face in the darkness of a cell.
Drums pound as the ritual has begun in the next chamber. The Hand of Light smirks and winks. A guard moves forward to strike him, but a quarrel arrests the motion. No harm can come to the Hand of Light except the final strike in the ritual chamber. The guards grumble profanities at the fate of their comrade, but step over the corpse.
The Hand of Light pushes his way into position at the head of the hooded procession, and the final sacrifice stomps away with the clinking of shackles.
Dim light, smoke and heat pour from braziers around the ceremony chamber. The Hand of Light’s robe is a smudge of white before the altar. The High Priest of the Horned One steps forward but the Hand of Light turns his back to him.
Or so it seemed. The ceremonial shackles click tight as the Hand of Light and Horned One of Chaos turn their attention to the sacrifice of the weak. Guards panic as the room erupts in cloying smoke and the characters struggle to free themselves from the shackles that have secretly held them for many years.
Madness reigns as the struggle for life and death rages in ceremony chamber of Chaos…
I ran into an interesting gaming scenario and real life teaching experience with my daughter, at the laundromat of all places. Rogues, thieves and con men are pretty much all the same. They have been for centuries. Techniques never change but the goods and the goals do. The good ones are never spotted, but the bad one stand out.
In real life and in gaming, we tend to gloss over the foolish ones while imagining the dangerous ones are around every corner. The only difference between the two is a poor spot check.
Two guys came in to the laundromat and instantly set off my spidey sense. Not in a physical way, but they were clearly up to no good. I called my daughter close and asked her to observe them.
I had her text me her thoughts about them. Silent communication, whether gestures or texting works to the advantage of the user, no matter the setting or year.
They were loud and swore around kids, like they wanted to be tough.
The looked the same. Bald and wearing straw hats. Sneakers but no socks. Shorts and T-shirts. Sunglasses, worn on the hat by one and around the neck by the other.
They were not identically dressed, but very similar.
They made eye contact while speaking everyone, except children. They ignored children.
They looked in all the machines.
They said not so nice things, but smiled the whole time.
They went into the kids play area, the bathroom and peeked in the office.
They never stopped moving or talking.
I wasn’t just me, these two stood out to my 10 year old.
They waited until the attendant hung up a sign saying “Back in 20 minutes” then loudly proclaimed that they lost $4.25 in one of the machines and wanted to speak to the owner. My daughter thought it was funny that he put 17 quarters in a machine but didn’t notice it wasn't working. It was also odd that the price was 5 bucks. I shrugged and asked her to keep watching.
When the attendant came back from break, Guy Number One asked if she was the owner and explained the problem. She offered to pull the coin box from the offending machine and refund the his money. Oddly, the coin box was empty. Guy Number Two took over and “The Owner” desperately searched for the offending machine.
What they missed was the attendant had empted the coin boxes before her break. They were not going to find any machine full of “their money”. Having failed, the men switched places and roles to create confusion.
The game continued for a while, until it was clear the tactic wasn’t working.
A loud conversation about going next door for Chinese food started. Number One suggested lunch and Number Two shouted it down since he was once refunded for receiving bad Chinese food at a restaurant.
A challenge was offered and accepted. They asked the attendant if the place next door was any good and she offered an opinion, but they hardly listened.
The two men left, but this time switching roles. Number One, the one who proposed the restaurant, loudly proclaimed he would not stand for bad food. Guess what was going to happen next door?
Pick a century, any century. Con men of every era use the same tactics. Han Solo, Sawyer from Lost and The Grey Mouser all pretty much operate the same underneath the hood.
Here are the tools of the trade:
Work in groups.
Have a cover story ready.
Have a backup plan, hopefully one that matches a cover story.
Be outwardly friendly, but forcefully offended and easily aggrieved.
Look tough, but back down with grace if necessary.
Use respect. Use more than the normal amount of respect to elevate the self-esteem of the mark.
Dress neatly with flash and style, but be similar to your associates so physical descriptions are easily confused.
Appear to trust other people, so they will extend the same level of trust.
Case the joint, the whole place not just the obvious areas.
Look for treasure everywhere. Anything worth anything at all is treasure.
Never ask for the whole enchilada, ask for less. This way you can haggle with a mark to part them from their money.