Runequest Thursday #124 - Dimoena, Vampire of Vivamortis!

Clint Staples

If you read last week's Runequest Thursday, about Starion, the Doomsword, you will recall that the Brightwaters, in attempting to steal the wyverns from the Lunar garrison at Anchor Home in the Clanking Ruin, also had a couple of side-missions, just to complicate matters.

During their adventures in the Clanking Ruin, the Brightwater heroes established an alliance, and some real affection, for the Humakti emigres from Esrolia who had taken up residence in Deathbridge. The Humakti had pursued a vampire across the Mirrorsea to the Clanking Ruin, whereupon they were immediately drawn to the potent deathly emanations pouring from Deathbridge, its Elder Age terror weapon, and the spirit Protea that had been bound to its operation. Taking the discovery as a sign from Humakt, they occupied the site, killing the Lunar exploratory party that ambushed them there and quickly consecrated the site to Humakt.

This action, however, compromised the Humakti's mission to eradicate the vampire they had been hunting. They could not leave the new temple undefended, prey to whatever force chose to seize it. So they made peace with the Lunars, paid a wergild for the dead soldiers, hushed up the massacre, and agreed to allow Lunar passage up or down the Canal (which Deathbridge spanned) and toprotect Lunars or others in their employ within reach of the Deathray.

The same agreement required the Lunars to supply the Humakti with food and other necessities, and to refrain from hostilities toward them or the temple. But having managed a way to avoid a Lunar assault on Deathbridge, the death cultists were no closer to destroying the vampire that had drawn there to the Clanking Ruin in the first place. The presence of multitudes of manchines (themselves undead) rendered the Humakti detection spells useless, and they did not have enough members to send out search parties, let along sufficient strength to slay a centuries old vampire, should they find her.

Enter the Brightwater heroes.

The Brightwaters met the Deathbridge Humakti when they took Lunar "employment" as an excuse to get access to the Canal for a look around in the deeper ruins. They won something like trust from the death cultists by telling them of rumors of a vampire in Lunar employ, a rumor which the Brightwaters' local guide, Manfred the Forge-Knight, could confirm as having heard on his own.

Over the course of a number of later meetings, the Humakti came to see the Brightwaters as possible allies. And the Brightwaters began to trust, and sympathize with the beleaguered cultists as it became clear that the Lunars were working toward breaking their treaty with Deathbridge by way of a massive trebuchet that could outreach Protea's destructive beam and smash the troublesome Humakti while, hopefully, leaving the Deathray intact or at least salvageable.

When the Brightwaters returned to Deathbridge with sure proof of the coming betrayal, and confirmation that the vampire was residing on the Lunar base of Anchor Home, home to the wyverns that Zoe Brightblade hoped to steal AND to the trebuchet (which was very near completion), the Humakti threw in with the Brightwaters intent to attack Anchor Home.

But only conditionally.

The Humakti would not attack the Lunars directly, only going after the vampire that had drawn them there. Should the Lunars attack Humakti, however, the Death cultists would be free of their oaths. In addition, the Brightwaters would be responsible for destroying the trebuchet. In return, Aelen du Morragonne, Runesword of Humakt, and several fellows, would join the assault.

The Brightwaters were unsure if they were getting a fair bargain, but it seemed the only one on offer. So they took the proffered help into account in their planning, and the Humakti into their confidence, travelling to Deathbridge to swear both sides to their alliance in good Humakti fashion.

That is when the Doomsword appeared out of thin air, hovering over the Death Shrine, and things got complicated.

Aelen, and every other du Morragonne in sight, knew the sword instantly, but were amazed that it had somehow transported itself from the family vault hundreds of miles distant, and at such an auspicious moment. They were shocked anew when it floated across the temple - and presented itself, not to the Runesword Aelen, or any Humakti, but to the Orlanthi, Zoe Brightblade.

Now an aside. As GM, I had decided that the Doomsword was going to appear, to aide in the destruction of the vampire - one who had claimed several du Morragonne lives in the past. But I had not decided who would wield the potent weapon. Present at the time were half a dozen Humakti, including Aelen the Rune Lord, and the presiding Rune Priest of Humakt, as well as Zoe Brightblade, Ughari the Praxian Shaman, and Wyrmhere the Sorcerer. I got everyone to make a Fate Roll (which is POWx5 or less as a Percentage roll). I rolled for each of the Humakti, and the players rolled for their characters. The Doomsword would choose the one favored by Humakt (i.e. who got the lowest result on their d100 roll).

Zoe rolled lowest. So The Doomsword placed itself in her hands.

Although I was glad that a PC was chosen, this was problematic for a number of reasons.

1. Zoe was not a Humakti, and the Doomsword had chosen an ally over one of her own family and a Humakti. Yet there was precedence for such an act in the Godtime, when Orlanth borrowed the First Sword from Humakt, and inadvertently slew Yelm, god of the Sun with it.

2. Zoe had recently acquired something called the Starglaive, a powerful weapon of stellar energy that the Brightwaters had hoped would give them an advantage in both destroying the trebuchet and in slaying the vampire. Now she would be unable to use the starglaive in the assault.

3. Zoe was the only one who could talk to the wyverns. Which is how the whole scheme came into being in the first place. Zoe had the wacky idea that if she could talk to the wyverns, she could convince them to leave with the Brightwater. And now, the Doomsword had put her on vampire destruction duty instead.

 

Now, it may sound like this whole thing was all about Zoe. That is not really the case.

The wyvern theft WAS her idea to begin with, but she was selected by the luck of the roll to wield the Doomsword. Which the players adapted to, and we had a pretty great session assaulting the top of Anchor Home in the face of significant Lunar resistance, a vampire, and more. I have though a few times about how things might have happened if Ughari or Wyrmhere had been chosen to wield Starion. The potential was there - in fact both of them had higher POWer, and a better roll, than had Zoe.

I will continue the telling of the assault next time, and you will get to read about a well-placed Lightning bolt from Wyrmhere, some aerial heroics from Ughari, the actions of the Clanking Ruin heroes (Cotan, Kyrikos, and Alayda) who got to come along as part of the Humatki contingent, and more.

Today, I wanted to provide you with the character sheet for Dimoena, the Vampire! She is pretty nasty! Well, she was anyway. Feel free to resurrect her for your own games, and if you do, LMK how it goes for your poor heroes.