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The Blood Game

by Alex Benson

here is another adventure. this one is inspired by my recent work on vampires. it is more in the development stage that the assassin one is. still, feedback would be appreciated.

Premise: the PCs are off adventuring. their task is to storm the stronghold of a vampire and rescue several hostages. their noble task is quickly complicated as the adventure changes in a series of twists and turns. the adventure is currently generic and can be set in several locations. a more thorough NPC descript will be posted in the coming weeks to detail the main NPC. I have plans for her.....muh ha haha!!!

What's Going On: the PCs quest is a farce, part of a ruse initiated by the very undead that they are going against. the chief antagonist is the hostage, a nosferatu named Ayllsa (name subject to change). their employer is one of Ayllsa's minions.

the ruse is initiated for several reasons. the first is to have some fun by manipulating the mortals. the second reason is to have some real adventurers test the stronghold's defences for possible use at their real haven. third, Ayllsa likes interacting with humans. fourth, the nosferatu wish to see if the wandering adventurers are a real threat. fourth, secretly Ayllsa desires to have some of her minions cleaned out. in particular are a number of humanoids and mercenaries she hired to seize the stronghold from its previous inhabitants. fifth, Ayllsa is always on the outlook for potential recruits....especially good looking males. sixth, PCs make good for good eating....a delicacy as compared to simple peasants.

Adventure Evolution: there are five hostages including Ayllsa. the real hostages are members of the nosferatu's larder. none have seen Ayllsa as a nosferatu and do not think that she is anything but another hostage. the hostages have been moved to the stronghold from the nosferatu's real stronghold for the game. each has been fed upon and display varying degrees of physical weakness. they won't be much help to the PCs.

the exception is Ayllsa who will portray herself as an adventurer. according to her, she was sent here by the PCs employer a few days earlier and was captured. after retrieving her weapons and armour she will gladly join the party. as a party member she will pull her own weight with some of the stronghold defenders. she will be hesitant in regards to some (nosferatu). mostly she will act as protector towards the hostages. if she spots a potential recruit (DM's choice) she will steadfastly defend that PC even against most nosferatu. she will divulge tidbits of information, citing them as observations made in her incursion before being captured.

in actuality, she is sizing the party up and leading them into a veritable maze of ambushes and secret passages. she is also seeking recruits from the party. ideally she will pick a primary and secondary recruit. based on ability and attractiveness. males are pegged to be consorts, females as servants (more on this later).

Ayllsa will play the part of the adventurer as long as possible, even after moving them into position. however, her real identity will eventually come to light. she will give a girlish laugh and take gaseous form, letting her worn weapons and armour drop to the floor (potential for cool imagery).

she will materialise elsewhere into another suit of armour and take command of her frontline defenders, most are her senior most minions. nosferatu will use the prepared maze environment to strike at the PCs. the DM should play the nosferatu as being more intent on capturing the PCs, especially any potential recruits.

the nosferatu, especially Ayllsa, will use gaseous form to their advantage. the abundance of placed armour and weapons allow them to move about the complex while retaining melee combat capability. Ayllsa and her allies are toying with the PCs, this should become apparent very quickly. most of their success will come by dispatching low level minions or staving off attacks.

Epilogue: a good party, using some good tactics, should be able to get away. that is really their goal, survival. live today to fight on tomorrow. aside from XP...gathered loot will be minimal.

however, the adventure is not over yet. Ayllsa will develop a near obsession with the primary and secondary recruits and follow their adventures. she could easily be a reoccurring NPC. either as a secret sponsor, antagonist, or continuing to recruit them. the rest of the party is inconsequential unless they do something that really impresses her.

if the PCs better prepare themselves and return to the stronghold, it will be empty of nosferatu. Ayllsa will have moved her forces out shortly after the incident. her interest in the facility was just for the game.

the experience should be quite humbling to them. however, it can also provide some excellent role-playing potential. it should also be a rude introduction to fighting undead, especially nosferatu. the DM should play upon the differences between nosferatu and vampires.

the adventure is intentionally overpowered for the PCs. the unfinished stronghold map is IMO a masterpiece (modesty) in ambush tactics. I would suggest that the DM shows the players the map after the adventure as proof that they were out of their league.

as mentioned above, Ayllsa (name subject to change) is a nosferatu. at the age of 18, she was embraced by the nosferatu Cestus (name subject to change).

like many men, he was obsessed by her charm and beauty. he took her on the eve of her wedding, an arranged marriage she objected to.

though Cestus initially had less than admirable intentions for her, he found himself unable to treat her as an undead slave concubine. instead, he adopted her as his daughter. as his daughter, he lavished upon her the greatest of gifts, knowledge. over the years he hired scholars, mages, and warriors to impress upon her the skills and lore of the land.

Ayllsa quickly absorbed this tutelage and mastered each in turn. finally, Cestus could teach her no more and like a parent seeing their child mature, he set her free upon the world. in Cestus she found a father, moreso than her biological sire who only saw her for her dowry potential.

Ayllsa put her lessons to work. over the centuries she has amassed a fortune and established several estates. these estates support a variety of identities that allow her to live among humans. when moving to an estate, she presents herself as being a few years younger than she is. she will stay there for a few years until her lack of aging becomes obvious. then she moves on to another prepared estate and identity. this process has served her well.

For the most part, Ayllsa has adapted well to being a nosferatu. it is all she really knows and her fondest memories occurred after her being brought over. she has even managed to rationalise the need to feed on human blood while maintaining a sense of humanity.

like many ancient undead, she is often bored. events like the Game are well planned diversions from the rigours of endless life. other ventures include mercantile trade ventures and some adventuring. she also has become a bit of a collector of armour and magic. her great thrill is the crafting of identities. this often includes mercantile trades to finance them. however it also requires establishing a base of operations to maintain the identities until she is ready to use them.

her existence also has left some odd quirks. her upbringing has caused her to desire a family. she creates her ideal family by finding recruits. perhaps she a bit of a perfectionist or perhaps she realises her folly, but she rarely keeps a family for long. she'll usually dispose of them in a humane manner if possible.

another quirk is her romance life. as a mortal she never knew real love. she has kept a series of consorts but has become impatient with each. as her undead slaves she knows that their affections are not heartfelt. she seeks a soul mate, one that loves her willingly.

little is known about Cestus. unlike Ayllsa he is less visual. however, he still walks the face of Mystara. he visits her every so often. these visits see Ayllsa in the best of moods for months.

in general, Ayllsa is still very much a teenage girl. however, she has centuries worth of experience to call upon. she is as comfortable using magic or steel in a fight. she loves toying with magic and has accumulated a wide variety of items. exotic weapons and armour also draw her interests. she has an extensive collection which she often displays as ornamentation. the displays allow her to use her favoured tactic of gaseous form to dash between suits of armour.