The Chaosium Digest

The Chaosium Digest supports the role-playing games produced by Chaosium Inc. and all content is fan submitted. Begun in 1994 by Shannon Appelcline who passed it to myself in 2000 and previously distributed via email, this is the newest incarnation of the Chaosium Digest. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chaosium Digest Classics: Children of the Night

by James D. Collins
originally presented in Chaosium Digest v29.10 on Friday, December 31, 1999

The Virus
Feramorbus (wild animal disease) is a magical virus that causes lycanthropy and vampirism. Lycanthropy is the expression of the virus in a living host. Vampirism is the virus expressed in an unliving host.

Feramorbus is a blood born pathogen. Blood transfusions, sexual contact, or exposure to infected blood without using Universal Precautions may result in infection.

The disease incubates for 6d10 days. During incubation, the infected person is incapable of transmitting the disease. Onset follows, lasting 1d10 days. During onset, flu-like symptoms appear, silver acts as an irritant (causing a burning sensation or a painful rash, but no damage), and Feramorbus is contagious. If the character fails a CONx1 on1d100, then the disease is fatal (but see Vampirism). The character will die during their first transformation (see below).

If the character survives onset, he or she is a lycanthrope. He or she gains the ability to transform into an animal form which is half human and half beast. The first transformation will always take place on the night of a full moon at midnight. The transformation from human to animal will take 1d10 combat rounds. It will cost the character 1d10 points of Sanity. At dawn, the transformation from animal to human will also take 1d10 combat rounds. The character will remember a vivid dream that hints at the temporary insanity suffered and the events during the transformed state.

After the initial transformation, the character will continue to change during a full moon or stressful situations. I have characters transform when temporary insanity occurs or they suffer significant amounts of damage (i.e., losing more than half their hit points or when hit points reach three or less). I allow a Sanity roll to avoid transformation. Each transformation costs Sanity (1/1d10) and takes 1d10 combat rounds to occur. The character is unable to act during transformation. If the character makes his Sanity roll (losing 1 Sanity point), he or she remains in control of the animal form. If the character fails the Sanity roll (losing 1d10 Sanity points), the animal form is played by the Keeper (perhaps with appropriate suggestions from the player). On the nights of a full moon, the transformation occurs at midnight and will last until dawn. When the stressful situation has passed, the character will regain human form.

At some point the character will gain control over his or her transformations or go permanently insane. I allow the character control over the transformation once the character has lost 10 points of Sanity due to those transformations. Once control over the transformation is established, the time needed to shift between shapes is one combat round. Transformations will always occur on the night of a full moon, lasting from midnight to dawn.

By far, the human to wolf transformation is the most common manifestation of lycanthropy. In looking over the Beasts And Monsters (Call of Cthulhu, Edition 5.5), I would include transformations for the following: Bats, Bobcats, Black Bears, Bush Pigs, Dogs, Indian Wild Dogs, Lions, Mountain Lions, Rats, Tigers, and Wolves. I have included omnivorous mammals, but change this to suit your own campaign (Condors,Crocodiles, and Pythons are certainly possible).
I have also included wererats (one of the Dungeons & Dragons staples), but the Call of Cthulhu rulebook (Edition 5.5) only includes Rat Packs. I use the Rat-Things found earlier in the book to model that wererat you've been hankering to create.

Regardless of the shape assumed, the lycanthrope's mass does not change. A lycanthrope's CON, SIZ, INT, POW, DEX, APP,and EDU are not altered by the transformation. Strength is altered when in animal form until the transformations are controlled (i.e., a lycanthropic bat gains 2d4 points of STR -- determined once at the time of the initial transformation). The transformed lycanthrope gains the Move (Bobcat Lycanthrope/Move 12), armor (Black Bear Lycanthrope/3 Point Fur), weapons (Bush Pig Lycanthrope/Gore 30%, damage 1d8 +dB), and skills (Dog Lycanthrope/Listen 75%, Scent Something Interesting 90%) of the appropriate animal. Skills may be improved, but may not be available in human form.

Lycanthropes are very resistant to damage. They can only be harmed by fire, silver, or magic. Lycanthropes regenerate one point of damage (unless damaged by silver) per combat round. For every point of damage regenerated, the lycanthrope is forced to spend one day resting. I penalize the lycanthrope's skills if they forgo resting (10% per day of rest required).

Silver is poisonous to the lycanthrope. Damage done to a lycanthrope with a silver weapon is treated as poison (weapon damage vs. lycanthrope's CON). If the damage overcomes the lycanthrope's CON, the lycanthrope dies. If the lycanthrope resists the silver weapon damage, the creature takes half damage. Any damage caused by a silver weapon must be healed normally (1d3 hit points per week). Silver weapons leave scars and may cost the lycanthrope points of APP (I allow a Luck roll to avoid the loss of 1 APP per wound with a silver weapon).

Anyone viewing a transformed lycanthrope may suffer Sanity Loss (0/1d8). A lycanthrope is immune to Sanity loss when viewing his own species (another werewolf will not suffer Sanity loss seeing another). I use a maximum Sanity Loss (after a werewolf has lost 8 points of Sanity fighting werebats, he or she won't lose any more to werebats).

The effects of Feramorbus extend beyond the grave. If a lycanthrope dies after the incubation period ends, then he or she will rise 1d6 days later as a vampire.

The vampire is a character that died while infected with Feramorbus. While death does not cause Sanity loss, rising from the grave does. The character loses 1d20 points of Sanity (if the character becomes permanently insane, the keeper has a new character to work with). A vampire's CON, SIZ, INT, POW, DEX, APP, and EDU are not altered. Strength is doubled once the vampire rises from the grave.

The bite of a vampire can transmit the Feramorbus virus (use a Luck roll to avoid infection). Each bite of a vampire following the first infectious bite will count as 1d20 days of the disease's incubation period (giving rise to the myth regarding the third bite of a vampire). If the victim survives the onset of lycanthropy, follow the above rules regarding lycanthropy. If the victim dies during the disease's onset, he or she becomes a vampire in 1d6 days.

A vampire retains the abilities that it gained as a lycanthrope. In addition to the skills gained as a lycanthrope, vampires can Scent Blood 75%. If a vampire died during the onset of Feramorbus before becoming a lycanthrope, the character cannot transform without magical assistance. If the vampire died after the onset of Feramorbus, they retain the transformational abilities that they had in life. A vampire's transformational abilities depend upon its existence as a lycanthrope, but there are constants to the vampire's nature. Many of the powers attributed to the vampires are the magics of individual sorcerers (many ofwhich were vampires or became vampires).

Vampires are unliving creatures. As such, they do not heal with the passage of time, do not possess body heat, and cannot regenerate Magic Points naturally.

Vampires are highly resistant to damage. They do not die at 0 Hit Points, but the vampire cannot move until it has healed itself. Vampires heal themselves by expending Magic Points (one Magic Point heals one Hit Point). There are spells that are much more efficient.

A vampire's lack of body heat makes it easier to discern their supernatural nature. A successful Spot Hidden skill check will reveal the lack of body heat. A successful Occult skill check will reveal the fact that an individual is a vampire (however, proving it to other's may be somewhat more difficult).

Vampires do not go unconscious at 0 Magic Points. They must drink blood to regenerate their Magic Points. If a vampire kills another vampire by draining their blood, they will gain a permanent point of Power (but no Magic Points).

Vampires are very resistant to damage. They can only be harmed by fire, magic, silver, or sunlight. Silver is poisonous to the vampire. Damage done to a vampire with a silver weapon is treated as poison (weapon damage vs. vampire's CON). If the damage overcomes the vampire's CON, the vampire loses all hit points. If the vampire resists the silver weapon damage, the creature takes half damage. Silver weapons leave scars and may cost the vampire points of APP(I allow a Luck roll to avoid the loss of 1 APP per woundwith a silver weapon). Sunlight causes a vampire to ignite. Each combat round spent in sunlight causes 1d6 points of damage. Once out of sunlight, the burning ceases (but a Sanity roll is required to get out of the sunlight as soon as possible; a failed Sanity roll indicates panic). Sunlight burns scar the vampire and may cost the vampire points of APP (I allow a Luck roll to avoid losing 1 point of APP). If sunlight drops a vampire's Hit Points to zero or negative, they will be destroyed at the end of the following combat round unless they regain one or more hit points.

Vampires cannot regenerate Magic Points naturally. They must drain blood to regain Magic Points. A vampire's bite causes 1d4 points of damage. A successful Grapple attack may be required before biting. On the second and following rounds, the vampire will drain blood, causing the victim to temporarily lose 1d6 points of Strength (due to blood loss), an equal number of Magic Points, and 1d4 Hit Points. The victim will be unable to fight against the vampire's bite after the first round (although nothing should stop friends and associates from interfering). If Strength falls to 0, he or she will become unconscious and further losses will come from Constitution. If Magic Points fall to 0, the victim loses one point of Power (which generates an equal number of Magic Points). If Hit Points fall to 0, the victim dies at the end of the following combat round.

If the victim survives the vampire attack, Strength, Constitution, and HitPoints will heal with the passage of time (1d3 points each per week). Magic Points regenerate naturally. Power losses are permanent. Don't forget that the vampire carries theFeramorbus virus. Medical attention (blood transfusions, First Aid or Medicine) can speed this recovery. Any Magic Points in excess of the vampire's Power are retained for a number of hours equal to their Power.

Vampires gain power with age or by killing other vampires. A vampire gains one point of Power for every hundred years of existence. If a vampire drains all the blood from a second vampire, they will gain a point of Power and destroy the second vampire. Killing another vampire in this manner is very difficult. The attacking vampire must first successfully grapple the defending vampire. On the second and following round, the attacking vampire must succeed with a Strength vs. Strength contest. If successful, the attacking vampire drains blood, causing 1d6 Hit Points of damage. If unsuccessful, the defending vampire frees himself. If the defending vampire is reduced to 0 HitPoints, he will be destroyed at the end of the following combat round by the attacking vampire. The attacking vampire gains a point of Power.

Anyone viewing a transformed vampire may suffer Sanity Loss (0/1d8). Vampires are immune to Sanity loss when viewing another vampire.

As noted above, many of the vampiric powers are the magics of individual sorcerers. There are numerous spells within A Mythos Grimoire that an enterprising vampire may use.Vampires are not immune to Sanity loss from casting spells. Due to their unliving nature, vampires do not benefit from the Heal spell or the Healing spell.

Repair: mends inanimate matter with a Size equal to or less than the caster's Power. The spell costs 1 Magic Point and 1 Sanity. Due to their unliving nature, vampires with sufficient Power use this spell to restore Hit Points.

Strength of Heracles: grants the caster prodigious strength for one combat round (the round following the casting of the spell). Each Magic Point spent adds 1d6 to the caster's damage bonus. The spell costs 1 Sanity point per Magic Point spent.

These vampires are not required to sleep in a coffin and maybe active during the daylight hours (don't forget their vulnerability to sunlight). Garlic, holy symbols, mirrors, running water, and the other legendary vulnerabilities do not affect this type of vampire.

Lycanthropes and vampires are highly resistant to physical damage, but their mental fortitude is vulnerable to Sanity loss just like anybody else. Unless care is taken, the Keeper will end up with an insane character that knows most of the various skeletons residing in the Player Characters' closets.


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