Modern Day Expedition to Castle Ravenloft
The Ravenloft Case - Forum
Ad Closes: Sep 12 '12
Estimated Members Requested: 5
The ideas for this game and its setting have slowly developed from several sources of personal inspiration and interest, listed here in no particular order.
*The League of Extraordinary Gentleman
*Everything ever written by Michael Crichton
This is not a horror themed game, despite its subject matter. It would be more accurate to describe it as a supernatural techno-thriller. Some its premise and plot set up are borrowed liberally from Michael Crichton’s novel, Congo, for example. It might be classed by some who are familiar with d20 Modern conventions as an Agents of Shadow campaign, but that label doesn’t entirely capture it either.
Expect to find references to a wide range of literature and movies as being actual events or parts of the game world. Some might be just that -- references -- others might become important elements of the game. Also, expect this to be somewhat of a work in progress and to forge a collaborative atmosphere with me that improves, adjusts and develops the mechanics of the system as needed.
Just so there aren't any misunderstandings on the nature of vampires in the Dark Files setting. . . . Vampires are cursed beings, punished by God for violations of sacred laws. They are not literally punished by God, in the Old Testament sense of an anthropomorphic deity consciously selecting an individual for his wrath. Rather, vampires are created by a process in which a soul so thoroughly and willfully violates the spiritual laws underlying the nature of reality that the very fabric of his being becomes transformed into a corrupted and twisted form of life. Fortunately the process for becoming a vampire is not clearly understood and the transformation occurs very rarely. Some vampires have spent centuries studying the process by which their condition arose in an effort to replicate it. These studies have made the path easier for some to follow, but the corruption of soul necessary for the transformation to occur is such that few aspirants actually succeed, and, in the most well-documented cases, actually occurs against the person's will.
Folklore and legend proclaim that vampirism can occur as the result of merely being bitten a given number of times by a vampire and then actually drained entirely of blood or killed as a result of blood loss from a vampire's thirst. These and other legends have no apparent basis in truth and are stories perhaps invented by various vampires themselves over the centuries to incite fear in others. The OSIRs database contains the most comprehensive collection of information on vampirism and other occult and supernatural phenomena in the world, although that claim might be disputed by the members of certain other ancient fraternities and secret societies, whom OSIRs agents also monitor.
Destruction of a vampire is a challenging business, made easier in modern times by the development of advanced incendiaries and other chemical and energy devices. The stories and wives tales of killing vampires with wooden stakes were also likely spread by vampires themselves to lure would-be vampire hunters to their deaths. A vampire's body is incredibly resistant to physical damage and regenerates rapidly. The limited research data available has revealed that a vampire’s body is comprised of semi-living tissue held together by energy binding effects of high dark matter concentrations. These binding effects deteriorate over time and must be continually renewed with life energy. The easiest, most readily available and assimilated source of life energy is blood. The process of digestion that normal living creatures use to harvest life energy from plants and animal cells has been corrupted and transformed in the body system of a vampire. Blood is ingested directly into the stomach where it undergoes a form of dark matter metabolism that is not yet understood. Computer and bio models created by OSIR researchers, however, hypothesize that the stomach of vampires actually becomes a kind of reservoir for dark matter fueled by energy collected from a planar node centered in the creature's heart. So long as life energy is supplied to combine with the dark matter reservoir, the vampire can continually replenish its strength, a process that can continue indefinitely. It is not known precisely how often a vampire must feed. There are few reliable records on such matters and the only vampire ever kept in captivity for any length of time had to be destroyed before any useful data could be collected. It is hypothesized, however, that a vampire deprived of blood for a considerable length of time will fall into a kind of coma. Because his tissue is not dependent on life energy for preservation, however, it is thought that a vampire in this hibernation state can be returned to life at any time a sufficient supply of blood is introduced into its system. The only way, therefore, of being certain to destory a vampire is to destroy the dark matter bonds supporting its transformed anatomy.
The most direct and efficient method of destroying a vampire is by exposure to natural sunlight. This has also been one of OSIR's most reliable methods of confirming identification of level 5 vampires since the office first added vampires to its list of confirmed supernatural entities, or SEs, in 1976. Individuals who fit the vampire classifications, however, are notoriously hard to track down and capture without risking undue legal exposure of OSIR's agents and of OSIR itself. A secondary method of both identifying and neutralizing vampires has been the development of high-power UV emitters. Although not as effective as natural sunlight and not lethal, UV emitters have enabled Department 7 agents to substantially injure, repel and on occasion, temporarily paralyze vampires. It is speculated, however, that vampires have developed technological countermeasures of their own. One report of suspected vampire activity in Washington State suggests the use of nanotechnology injected into the vampire's tissue that absorbs and interacts with UV radiation in such a way as to deflect it away from the dark matter energy bonds in its body. One side effect of this interaction is thought to be a kind of extreme glistening of the skin that has been described by one agent as looking like "sparkling fairy dust suffusing the exposed areas of the subject's body."
The year is 2025 and it’s been twenty-two years since the director of the Investigations Division of the Office of Supernatural Interdiction and Research (OSIR) forwarded a new vampire case to the director of the Interdiction Division, also known as Department 7.
The Office of Supernatural Interdiction and Research (OSIR), a secret organization within the United Nations, maintains a database of suspected vampires and ranks them according to levels of confirmation from 1 to 5. A level 1 ranking indicates an initial suspicion, whereas a level 5 ranking indicates validated and confirmed identification of vampirism. Prior to the new case recently submitted to Director Asambe, there hadn’t been a level 5 vampire listed in the database since 2003. The last level 5 vampire listed in the database was confirmed destroyed by OSIR agents in Sunnydale, California in 2003. There are currently six level 4 vampires, however, listed in the OSIR database. Agents from the Invesigations Division maintain close surveillance of these individuals in an effort to identify possible evidence leading to a level 5 classification. Once an individual has been confirmed as a level 5 vampire, the information is passed to the director of the Interdiction Division for the development of a mitigation plan.
Ongoing surveillance by the Investigation Division of suspected vampire activity has seen declining budget allocations over the past decade, as it becomes more difficult to confirm and validate classification levels higher than 3. Consequently, the sudden appearance of a level 5 case being sent to Director Asambe’s office out of the blue represents a dramatic departure from the usual routine. The details of the case are considered highly sensitive and have been classified as level 4 security matters, a step beyond the normal top secret security level of most of the office’s cases.
The agent list for this case is a foregone conclusion for many staffers in Department 7 and will probably consist of a team of specialists without the support of tactical operations in order to further reduce the likelihood of public exposure of the operation.
“Good afternoon, agents,” Director Asambe said as he entered the room, his deep baritone losing some of its usual calmness and casual courtesy. “This one is hot,” he said tapping his finger on the surface of the touch sensitive table display and projecting a holographic image of an elevation map of Eastern Europe. Moving his hand over the image, Director Asambe rotated and expanded it until it centered on a remote, mountainous region of northeastern Romania about 8 km north of the village of Frumosu. The agents immediately recognized the location as a region notorious for viral strains of lycanthropy.
The agents were shown segments of video uplink from the helmet cameras of a team of OSIRs hunters that began as a search for a single
but quickly erupted into chaos as they were ambushed by numerous creatures, some of whom fired automatic weapons clutched in animal hybrid hands. Within seconds the cameras were dead, along with the hunters. Four well-trained and well-equipped hunters led into an ambush that their recon intelligence hadn't seen coming.
Director Asambe paused for a moment to allow the agents to digest what they'd just seen. Then he tapped another button. The projected video panel was replaced with a slowly spinning holographic image of the Earth which showed a composite display of real-time weather patterns. Moving his hands over and through the image, the director brought it around to display the region in question--a small, densely wooded valley nestled between mountains on all sides--only something was strange. Except for the immediate vicinity of the of valley, the surrounding mountains and hills were clear of cloud cover and fog. "This image was taken at noon today," the director said. Waving his hand over the image, it changed. More scattered clouds appeared but the exact same fog formation appeared over the valley. "This one at noon yesterday." The director didn't need to remind these agents that there was no natural explanation for this kind of fog formation. "The last image we have of this region without fog is here," he said, waving his hand several times through the image to bring up the desired time sequence. "This was taken three months ago. Since then, satellite records confirm that this valley has been covered in continuous fog, and here's the bad news."
Director Asambe made sure he had everyone's attention before completing his statement. "That fog absorbs every method of electronic surveillance that we throw at it. Nothing gets through it. We only got the uplink video that we did because they were still at the edges of it. The people in Analysis think we may have an authentic planar convergence on our hands, a convergence that just happens to center on the site of a medieval castle that local legend says belonged to an obscure fellow named Count Strahd von Zarovich.
Where to Submit Applications
: The Applications thread in the game forum.
What to submit
: A character concept following the format given below.
What not to submit
: A completed character sheet.
What sources are allowed Pathfinder Core Rules
Pathfinder Advanced Players Guide
Pathfinder Ultimate Magic
Pathfinder Ultimate Combat
The Dark Files Setting website What races are allowed
: human (humanoids exist, but they don't work for OSIRs)
What is the starting level
What classes are allowed
: Propose what interests you, but be prepared to negotiate and brainstorm possible modifications. Make sure to check out the Dark Files Setting website for existing modifications. To narrow the options to those I'll be more likely to approve, here's a list of character classes from each of the approved sources that OSIR typically recruits from.
Classes and Levels:
Possible examples of cases that your character might have completed for OSIRs in the past as an example of your creative feel for the setting. I may or may not actually incorporate these into the game backgrounds. OSIRs Assignment Highlights
Game Description: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft by Wizards of the Coast reworked for a near-future/modern science-fantasy setting using a customized version of the Pathfinder rules supplemented with d20 Modern rules that I call the Dark Files Setting. Visit the Dark Files website for details about this hybrid Pathfinder system, as well as additional background information about the setting beyond that provided here.
Last edited by Raconteur; Aug 24 '12 at