Sleepless Nights: Additional Templates

Sleepless Nights is an occult action-adventure Gurps campaign I’m planning. The player characters will be vampires.

Earlier in this series: I looked at the basic vampire racial template I plan on using in the first post, optional traits in the second one, and the vampirism power in my previous post. This time, I’m showcasing four additional templates relating to two Vampirism abilities, Enslavement and Shapeshifting.


4                  Other Templates

4.1              Vampiric Slave (11 points)

A vampire’s mortal slave gains a fanatical devotion to the master, and some small fraction of a vampire’s powers: exceptional strength and speed, a small measure of night vision and resistance to the powers of other vampires. He or she is particularly motivated to protect the master at all costs, and has a mystical awareness of the master’s condition and needs during the night. If the slave gets a little of the master’s blood every few weeks, he or she remains capable and loyal, but going without a monthly dose first makes the slave listless and moody, and after a few months frees him or her from the master’s grip.

An animal can be made into a vampiric slave just like a human. In that case, add the traits in this template to the animal’s racial template.

4.1.1         Attributes and Secondary Characteristics [25]

  • ST +2 [20]
  • Basic Move +1 [5]

4.1.2         Advantages [14]

  • Higher Purpose (Protect the Master) [5]
  • Night Vision 2 [2]
  • Resistant (+3; Vampirism; Not vs Master, -20%) [4]
  • Special Rapport (Master; One-Way, -20%; Nocturnal, -25%) [3]

4.1.3         Disadvantages [-28]

  • Chronic Depression (Self-Control 15; Mitigator: Master’s Blood, monthly, -60%) [-3]
  • Fanaticism (Serve the Master) [-15]
  • Secret (Vampiric slave) [-10]

4.1.4         Improved Slave Lens (+20 points)

  • ST +1 [10]
  • Will +1 [5]
  • Basic Move +1 [5]

4.2              Vampiric Bat (350 points)

As a bat, the vampire has all its normal capacities and weaknesses, except that its strength and, to a lesser extent, its resistance to injury, are reduced proportionally to its size. It is much nimbler than in human form, however. It can’t speak, and its hind legs can pass for hands only awkwardly, but it has all the sensory abilities of a bat, and can fly very fast and quietly. It can mesmerize mortals, but it might be challenging to achieve eye contact, as humans tend to be startled and revolted by the bat form.

4.2.1         Attributes and Secondary Characteristics [175]

  • ST -5 [-50] (-15 relative to Vampire)
  • DX +8 [160] (+4 relative)
  • HP +5 [10] (+0 total, -10 relative)
  • Per +4 [20] (+0 relative)
  • Basic Speed +2 [40] (+4 total, +2 relative)
  • Air Move +10 [20]
  • Basic Move -5 [-25] (+1 total, -6 relative)
  • No FP [0]
  • SM -5

4.2.2         Advantages [486]

  • As per Vampire, plus:
  • Acute Hearing +4 [8]
  • Flight (Winged, -25%) [30]
  • Peripheral Vision [15]
  • Silence 2 [10]
  • Sonar (In air, -10%) [18]
  • Ultrahearing [5]

4.2.3         Disadvantages [-311]

As per Vampire, plus:

  • Cannot Speak [-15]
  • Foot Manipulators [-6]
  • Ham-Fisted 1 [-5]

4.3              Vampiric Mist (350 points)

In this form, the vampire looks like a roughly human-sized cloud of mist, difficult to see in poor lighting. It can emanate additional fog, enough to fill a small room, to obscure others’ vision and conceal its exact location. It can fly freely, condense into a third of its normal size, and stretch and squeeze through narrow gaps, but a strong wind can push it along like real mist. It can lift and manipulate small objects and knock things about like a gust of wind, but is much weaker than a human, and can only speak in a faint whisper.

The mist form is very difficult to hurt: aside from large-area attacks like explosions and of course sunlight, it takes only a tiny amount of damage from any given hit, and that, too, is almost instantaneously healed as the mist reforms. Burning attacks, however, damage the vampire just like in human form. Extreme winds will slowly damage the vampire.

In mist form, the vampire can seep into earth, including soil, sand, gravel etc., but not solid stone. This protects it from sunlight, and from all other forms of damage. This capacity is useful for sleeping inconspicuously and safely (which only a vampire with the 5th-level shapeshifting ability can do), but it does not necessitate sleep; however, the vampire cannot move about inside the earth, but is stuck in the spot it entered.

As the vampire has no eyes in mist form, its mesmerism does not depend on eye contact, but on direct contact with the target’s skin. More significantly, it has no mouth, and therefore cannot bite or drink blood! The vampire keeps all its other abilities and suffers from its normal weaknesses in mist form.

1.1.1         Attributes and Secondary Characteristics [86]

  • ST -6 [-60] (-16 relative to Vampire)
  • DX +4 [80] (+0 relative)
  • HP +16 [32] (+10 total, +0 relative)
  • Per +4 [20] (+0 relative)
  • Basic Speed +1 [20] (+2 total, +0 relative)
  • Air Move -3 [-6]
  • No FP [0]

1.1.2         Advantages [599]

As per Vampire, except:

  • Remove Bite [-200]
  • Remove Immunities [-25]
  • Remove Injury Tolerances [-24]
  • Remove Sharp Teeth [-2]
  • Mesmerism: Remove Vision-Based and Vision-Based, reversed; add Accessibility, Not on Sealed Targets, -5%; and Melee Attack, Reach C, Cannot Parry, -35% [+0]
  • Unkillable 1: Change Achilles’ Heel to Burning or Sunlight only, -30% [+10]
  • Chameleon 5 (Always On, -10%) [23]
  • 360° Vision [25]
  • Flight (Lighter than Air, -10%) [36]
  • Immunity to Metabolic Hazards [30]
  • Injury Tolerance (Diffuse; Infiltration, +40%; Bane: Burning, -10%) [130]
  • Injury Tolerance (No Eyes) [5]
  • Obscure 6 (Vision; Defensive, +50%) [18]
  • Permeation (Earth; Temporary Disadvantage: Sessile, -50%) [20]
  • Regeneration (Very Fast; Accessibility: Only injury suffered in mist form, -20%; Bane: Burning, -10%) [70]
  • Shrinking 3 (Full HP, +30%; Full Move, +30%) [24]
  • Silence 5 [25]
  • Stretching 4 [24]
  • Vibration Sense [10]

1.1.3         Disadvantages [-335]

As per Vampire, plus:

  • Cannot Speak (Can whisper, -80%) [-3]
  • Invertebrate [-20]
  • No Legs (Aerial) [0]
  • Social Stigma (Monster) [-15]
  • Weakness (Strong winds, 1d/minute; Variable, -40%) [-12]

4.4              Vampiric Wolf (350 points)

In wolf form, the vampire retains its normal size, gains a little extra agility and strength, and a great deal of speed. It has the wolf’s sensitive ears and nose, a small measure of physical protection due to its thick coat of fur, and long, strong jaws that greatly increase the power of its bite. It can’t speak, but its howl carries for miles. It can mesmerize mortals, but a human is unlikely to stare it in the eyes for the required time unless stunned by fear. The vampire’s other abilities and weaknesses do not change.

4.4.1         Attributes and Secondary Characteristics [240]

  • ST +12 (No Fine Manipulators, -40%) [72] (+2 relative to Vampire)
  • DX +6 (No Fine Manipulators, -40%) [72] (+2 relative)
  • HP -2 [-4] (+10 total, +0 relative)
  • Per +4 [20] (+0 relative)
  • Basic Speed +2.5 [50] (+4 total, +2 relative)
  • Basic Move +6 [30] (+10 total, +5 relative)
  • No FP [0]

4.4.2         Advantages [460]

As per Vampire, plus:

  • Acute Hearing +2 [4]
  • Born Biter 2 [0]
  • Discriminatory Smell [15]
  • DR 2 (Bane: Burning, -10%) [9]
  • Good with canines [1]
  • Enhanced Move 1 (Ground) [20]
  • Penetrating Voice [1]
  • Striking ST +5 (Bite only, -60%) [10]

4.4.3         Disadvantages [-350]

As per Vampire, plus:

  • Cannot Speak [-15]
  • Quadruped [-35]
  • Social Stigma (Monster) [-15]

Design Notes

Vampiric Slave

The Vampiric Slave template defines the ghoul or Renfield equivalent in Sleepless nights. This isn’t an Alternate Form, really, more of a meta-trait, but it’s a lot more convenient than including all these advantages and disadvantages as separate enhancements of the Affliction advantage (see Enslavement in my previous post). It also wouldn’t work to use a meta-trait as an enhancement just based on its total point cost, because how would you price a 0-point meta-trait with 100 points in advantages and -100 points in disadvantages? The +150% for Alternate Form seems like the best option here.

Regarding the slave template itself, while the positive aspects are pretty straightforward, the disadvantages might be considered a little iffy. Firstly, can you take Fanaticism (Serve the Master) and Higher Purpose (Protect the Master)? I think you can, because while they might overlap quite often, they can also come into conflict. A slave obeying any command that involves neglecting the master’s safety would lose the Higher Purpose bonus until he made sufficient amends, whatever his twisted mind would consider that to mean. And the way I interpret it, not all of the negative point value of Fanaticism follows from the way it restricts your behavior; some of it is compensation for how it restricts your thoughts. I would give a Fanatic severe penalties to notice, let alone act on, information that is in conflict with his or her ideals. For example, a religious Fanatic might straight-up refuse to believe their spiritual leader is a charlatan, even if shown incontrovertible proof.

Secret is another borderline case. Now, any vampiric slave would soon develop this disadvantage – how do you serve and protect a vampire and not have to hide it from everybody? You don’t! But is it ok to include it in a meta-trait? I decided on going with it, with the caveat that like Fanaticism, the Secret isn’t just a social inconvenience, but a psychological compulsion, some sort of residue of Mesmerism in all probability. The slave will be compulsively secretive, and even if he or she hasn’t done anything terrible to serve the master yet, it has to protect the master’s Secret or likely die trying to protect the master from would-be vampire killers.

Bat and Wolf

These are pretty straightforward: the bat is small and very agile, can fly, and navigates using Sonar, while the wolf bites very hard, runs fast, and has Discriminatory Smell. I based them on the animals in Dungeon Fantasy: Allies, but very loosely, and with much fiddling to bring the point costs to match the Vampire template – you want your points’ worth when you buy Alternate Form!

The bat form is much tougher for its size and strength than the human or wolf form – 10 HP on average, at SM -5; I didn’t want a shapeshifting vampire to become too vulnerable to ordinary attacks, and at HP 5, going to -10 × HP would have been a bit too easy, especially once modern weapons become available to vampire hunters. The -10% Only in Air limitation on Sonar comes from DF: Allies as well; the same limitation is priced at -30% in Powers: Enhanced Senses. I don’t see the campaign featuring a lot of underwater action, so I ‘m very comfortable with the -10%. This is a very rare case of Gurps books contradicting one another – it’s a testament to the diligence of Kromm and PK this doesn’t happen more often.

The wolf form has Social Stigma (Monster) [-15] which is specifically intended for large predators, among others, according to the Basic Set. The bat, on the other hand, I gave no Social Stigma. Monster just seems way excessive for a bat: people would react pretty negatively to one flying around the house, but they wouldn’t go for their guns and start organizing a hunting party if they saw one in their yard.  I think a Social Stigma for wild animals worth -5 or -10 points would be reasonable, but such a trait doesn’t appear in any book as far as I can tell.

Mist

The mist form took a while to get right, but I think it’s not bad. It incorporates excellent stealth, practical invulnerability (except against fire and sunlight), and almost total freedom of movement, but loses the ability to bite and feed. It’s not insubstantial, and can move stuff around, but with ST 4 and Invertebrate, its ability to interact with the environment is pretty limited. Changing Mesmerism from depending on eye-to-eye contact into a touch attack happily resulted in the same point cost.

There are so many traits in this template that I expect a player who takes this form Shapeshifting will require more than a little hand-holding the first couple of times they use it. But that should be fun as well, particularly if the character is also just learning the ability.


So, that concludes our look at vampiric traits for Sleepless Nights. I’ll have more to say about character creation next time!

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