Saturday, August 29, 2020

Undying Elven Vampire Descriptor for Cypher System

   The Realms of Chirak has a class of elven vampire called the Undying. The key traits of undying are that they are elves who died horribly or suddenly, and for whom their spirits, unable to ascend to an elven afterlife in the feywild, find themselves trapped in the mortal realm and unable to leave. The only reasonable way to put an undying down is decapitation; elves of Chirak practice decapitation of their dead as a matter of course.

   The etymology of the undying goes all the way back to 2nd edition's Ravenloft, which introduced a version of vampires (originally tied to Dragonlance, I think) which drained beauty instead of life. I loved that concept and made it a core conceit of the undying; they not only drain blood, but the literal physical appearance and sense of well being of their victims!

Undying (Descriptor)

    There will come a time when a player character suffers a demise as an elf, and by virtue of bad luck, GM fiat or storyline requirements he will return as an undying. This descriptor can be used to simulate those who return from the dead.

    GMs interested in some old school randomness may require a freshly deceased fey player character to make an “Undying check” at the terminus of their character’s life. For Cypher: a check against the level of the creature or effect that killed the PC; alternatively, this could be due to GM Intrusion. 

    This descriptor works just fine for NPCs as a template; particularly insidious GMs could apply it to satyrs, nymphs and other unusual fey as desired, to really surprise his players!

Requirements: Any fey type; must have been killed in some fashion that did not also lead to dismemberment or immolation.

Attributes: +2 Speed (as elf)

Vision: dark vision (can see in the dark as if it were daylight)

Racial Skills: gain training in thievery and stealth

Undead: Undying are undead. Like most undead, undying do not age and are effectively immortal, until someone slays them. Damage done to a vampire's weakness (damage dealt while exposed to sunlight, fire, immersion in running water or decapitation) cannot be healed normally and requires blood. Decapitation is permanent for Undying. Immersion in running water does 1 point of damage a round regardless of armor until stopped.

Bite: Undying are still vampires and can drain blood with a bite. Their bite must do damage to work. A vampire deals 4 points of damage with a bite, and if damage gets through may gain one recovery or improve the damage track by one.

Wilting Grasp: The Undying can cause a Wilting Grasp with an unarmed melee attack. This damage is dealt directly to Intellect and bypasses normal non-magical armor. If the Undying crits, it can choose to also induce a -1 shift penalty to all charisma related actions on a 19, or -2 shift penalty on a natural 20. These penalties do not lift until the intellect damage is fully healed.

Corrupting Touch: When you touch your bare skin to another willing target in an attempt to heal or aid someone or be healed in turn, inducing healing by any power, any other effect which induces a healing in another, or using the Heal skill, the corrupting touch happens. Must be adjacent to the target in question. You must make an Intellect Defense Check against the target's level (or if a PC they make an Intellect Defense check against your Rank) or the target suffers a -1 shift Intellect penalty to all charisma related checks for one day and takes 2 Intellect of damage; must get a full recovery to restore to normal. This can happen more than once, with cumulative effects. Dealing any damage lets the undying restore on recovery.

Inability - Discomfited by Sunlight: The undying finds sunlight painfully unpleasant, and must shield himself from it if possible. If unable to provide some reasonable cover (such as a thick cloak and hood) while in sunlight, then the undying suffers -1 shift penalties to all Might and Speed actions.

Inability – Memory Fugue: Most undying appear to have no realization of their nature, even as they commit their acts of destruction and murder. Very ancient Undying may become acutely aware of their condition and embrace it, while young and new undying seem to “black out” when they commit vampiric acts, and go into violent rages if confronted with hard evidence of their actions. This selective memory loss seems to be due to the inability of the fey ancestry to reconcile their necromantic transformation due to the loss of their immaterial afterlife in the feywild. All Undying suffer from this inability to reconcile their natures when it is demonstrated, and suffer -2 shift penalties to intellect defense tests when trying to remain in control or reconcile such evidence when confronted with it. Very ancient Undying may spend 3 XP to reduce this to a -1 penalty, and ancient undying  may spend 10 XP to remove the penalty (but must be at least tier 5).

Hunger for the Beauty of the Living: Undying do not heal normally. They must drain the life and beauty from the living in order to sustain themselves. At the beginning of each day in which the undying has not fed on beauty he loses one recovery roll (starting from shortest to longest). If the Undying reaches zero recovery rolls then he may go in to a frenzy at the sight of beauty; each time a creature of sufficient beauty (assessed by the GM) comes within sight of the undying, he must make an Intellect check (at the level of the target plus 1 per week he has not fed) or immediately try and feed! He will not stop trying (by attack or deception) until he has gained at least one surge.

Special Death Requirements: Undying don’t die like regular characters. If an undying reaches 0 recoveries and is then reduced to damage track 3 and is decapitated, he is destroyed. Otherwise, he will return from the grave once again at an unspecified later date. This is usually a minimum of a few months, but can be years or even centuries. Roll 1D20 for the number of months the undying is in torpor. On a 19-20, re-roll and treat it as the number of years; if you roll 19-20 a second time, re-roll for the number of decades, etc. Finally, an undying can always be prevented from returning by means of decapitation.

Additional Equipment: one relic weapon of up to expensive rarity and one relic item from your living years as an elf.

Initial Links to Starting Adventure:

1. you are an ancient undying recently awakened by your fellow PCs from some grave, and now wandering the land with a memory fugue, trying to remember who you are.

2. You were awoken by tomb robbers whom you killed, and you wandered off, met the PCs, and have been traveling with them while recovering your wits.

3. You were slain by orcs or other creatures in battle recently, but have no memory and are oblivious to your condition. Your PC companions assumed you simply had good luck to escape death.

4. You were killed by another undying elf and left as a husk who came back to life. You have one or more PC allies taking care of you who may or may not realize your condition. 

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