Sunday, July 19, 2015

Transylvania Chronicles Redux -- Act VI

Transylvania Chronicles II
Son of the Dragon
Act VI: Prophecy in Amber

(Massive Spoilers)

Summary: Zelios the Master Mason summons the characters to meet with him at Bran Castle.
This is NOT Dracula's Castle. Because THAT
would be going to far.
There, he tasks them to head to Arghes Castle, where Dracula is hiding. They need to mark another rune there in order to maintain the binding of Kupala. He offers them two items of treasure as payment for the task--a brooch of amber than once belonged to Nova Arpad, and a golden tome. The coterie heads to Arghes and there meet their old friend Dracula. He welcomes them and allows them to mark their rune, after spending a few days. Perhaps the begin a romance with him, or perhaps not. A pack of “sabbat” assault the castle, only to be intercepted by a force or Camarilla Justicars and Archons. Dracula uses the distraction to strike at both forces, and captures two Sabbat vampires--Lambach and Tabak. If not embraced by a PC, Dracula arranged his own embrace and soon after commits his first act of diablerie. The players return to Zelios and receive their reward, After uncovering the secret of the amber brooch (which Zelios explains), the players discover an unsettling message.

Key Factors Receive the ancient message. Behold the transformation of Dracula into one of the undead.

Initial Thoughts: Oh, thank god. It’s another Dracula adventure. Man, that guy is so cool. I especially enjoy how in Act IV they make a big deal about how the players can NOT embrace him--I suppose because he’s amazing blood is necessary to take down the Cathedral of Flesh. But now, if they are cool enough, Dracula and a character might become lovers and they are allowed to embrace him.

Assuming the player is mature enough to appreciate such a romance. And it makes sense for a 400 year old vampire. Hope your advanced and mature players didn’t pick any of the Roads that would make such a romance impossible.

But don’t worry if they did. Dracula is more than awesome enough to get himself embraced by a very powerful elder and become a badass vamp on his own. And then he diablerizes his way to even more power.

Oh, and something about Kupala and some message. I’m sure the message they received for their troubles is jaw-dropping, but I have no idea. It’s printed with light black text on a dark grey background in that faux handwriting font, so I can’t easily read it. I assume it’s important, but I have no idea. It’s quite clear that having the Storyteller read this and understand what’s going on was not a top priority for the layout team.

Less sarcastically, this could be a fun role-playing focused Act for the right player--one who does enjoy playing the romance between themselves and Dracula and a Storyteller that is able to make that work. Of course, any other players in the game will be placed in a “watch the one PC do something cool” which I suppose is better than watching the NPC do something cool.

Fixes:  I have nothing. If the romance doesn’t work, this is hands down the most pointless Act so far in the Chronicles. Makes me long for the action packed horror of Act II, that’s for damn sure. So, you better hope that the romance works.

Can it? Yeah, I suppose. Hell, one of my favorite sessions of Vampire I’ve ever run was about how a romance bloomed and the player had their character follow their heart. And it was great. But it requires a deft hand, and the Storyteller and player being on the same page. It’s difficult to run a romance, particularly within a single session, and especially when the Storyteller is pushing it hard.

If the romance works, the players have a direct connection to who is clearly shaping up to be a definitive NPC for the campaign. If not, then I guess they get another example of how much cooler and more competent Dracula is than them.

When I run this, it’d really all come down to Act IV. If the players respond to Dracula well and dig him, and I am able to lay some groundwork for romance then, sure, this could work. If not, I don’t think I’d even try to do anything with this. I’d probably have them looking for the golden tome in the beginning, meet Zelios, mark runes in a similar fashion to Act II, and receive their reward. Of course, that assumes the whole rune things pays off in any way. If not, then this is to be replaced whole cloth with a character-driven adventure.

Can they fail? Fail at what? I guess they can piss off Dracula enough that he wouldn't allow them to place the rune, but at this point that feels like a red herring. Otherwise, their success or failure has no baring on the outcome of this Act.

(Transylvania Chronicles II: Son of the Dragon, written by Brian Campbell and Nicky Rea. Published by White Wolf Publishing, Inc. 1998. Available for purchase at drivethrurpg.)

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