Tower defense plus vampires, I mean, what’s not to like?!
This one I actually know it’s good, it’s been playtested! It was planned as a separate chapter on my last campaign, for 5 sessions, when my players had to “play the game”, so to speak, of the vampires ruling the city where they had to stay.
It served as change of scenery then, but I’m fully convinced that it can be a full-blown setting of its own, with a great tactical emphasis.
Vampires have many weaknesses aside their allergy to sunlight and one that is seldom seen in D&D, but that is nonetheless canonical, is the rather strange need to be invited before they can get in somebody’s home (forbiddance).
Take that and:
See the image above? That’s the city of Bologna in the Middle Ages. Italy at the time was the most urban you could get and the local nobles, with these towers, made sure everybody knew who were the bosses. Owning a tower was a matter of prestige, but also crucial to control an area by might. So, indeed, towers everywhere.
Now imagine a city that is owned by vampires, say a few dozens of those bloodsuckers. The populace gives blood at the sunday mass, whatever. The vampires are the nobles. They each have a territory, of course, established by a notary (a very important profession) with a cadastre and all. Within these parcels of city they do as they please, feed whenever and from whoever they want, collect taxes and so on. But they can’t put a single step outside of what they own, unless specifically invited to do so (for a bal masqué maybe?). And what you own is firmly established by which towers you possess.
- housings and people, are properties both
- those are owned by the owner of the closest tower
- a master vampire lives in a fortified mansion, which effectively acts as a tower for its surrounding area
- the rules are enforced by a neutral party led by the Podestat, a vampire that come from another city
Being fiercely competitive creatures but also having a strong sense of self-preservation, the vampires have established a sort of equilibrium that rewards aggression without risking their precious untanned skin.
They can take a neighbor’s tower by force (or ruse), if they have the means, seizing in the process all properties that goes with it. But only by night. There’s an inverse couvre-feu, as it is.
Of course the vampires (masters or spawns) can’t attack an enemy tower themselves, they’re not invited. That’s where minions, non-vampires, comes into play. But only resourceful agents (read PCs!) know success, for it is a very dangerous business overcoming a tower’s defense. The very best at this offer their services to the highest-bidders and can obtain great rewards (possibly becoming bloodsucking monsters themselves if so they wish). If they can survive the ceaseless schemes of their employers, that is.
Some more features
- all matter of creatures are bound in the service of the vampires
- towers are close enough that their garrison can shoot with crossbow at each other
- what about vampire hunters? PCs could decide to overthrow the city’s undead masters once they tire of working for them
- there’s a vast maze of catacombs and sewers below that can be used to move or hide
- organized religion turns around the concept of the sacred blood, given to the worthy so they could rule and protect
the herdhumans forever after
Damn I can’t find the map I did for this… Oh well, who cares, here’s a meme: