Last month I started my detailed playthrough of Thousand Year Old Vampire by Tim Hutchings, given to me by that notable siren of vampiric power, my fellow Gnome (and all-around awesome person), Camdon Wright. This time around, I’m going to play through a few of the prompts, and we’ll see where Jorgrimr, son of Julfr, a Norse mercenary who helped the Grand Prince of Kiev solidify his holdings, ends up. Unfortunately, The Black Wolf, a strange supernatural creature, attacked Jorgrimr.
How the Prompts Work
I touched on this last time around, but once the character has been created, you play through the prompts in the game by rolling a d10 and a d6, subtracting the d6 from the d10. If you land on the same prompt more than once, there are three prompts for that entry, often tied together and representing that plot thread becoming more intense.
Various prompts will have you check off or strike through a skill or resource, and for each prompt, you make a new Experience, meaning eventually you need to drop a Memory to contain more of your Experiences. You can make a journal to hold a memory, but you don’t actually remember it at that point, you can just reference things that happened to you that you can no longer recall.
Some prompts will give you more skills or resources as you go along, and some prompts will have you introduce more mortals or immortals into your story.
I’m not going into too many details in this series of articles, but there are going to be some descriptions of violence relating to the prompts, so if the kind of violence you might expect in a vampire story might be an issue for you, you may not want to keep going.
This prompt told me that I have withdrawn from society, looking for a place to hide, establishing a feeding pattern, and gaining a Resource reflecting my new shelter.
I have decided that Jorgrimr doesn’t want his mercenaries or Anichka to see him like this, especially now that his fangs are permanent. Jorgrimr decides to take over Konstantin’s estate and feeds on his soldiers—it’s not a valiant death in battle, but they deserve it for serving Konstantin. Konstantin has many other homes, so he hasn’t noticed Jorgrimr taking this one over yet.
This prompt is directing me to create another immortal character, lose a Resource, and gain a skill, and is asking me what I lost to the new immortal character.
Otgar was another of the Varangian mercenaries brought to this land by the Prince. He was abandoned by Konstantin and left to die, but The Black Wolf also found Otgar. Otgar maintained control over his men and assaulted Konstantin’s estate. The Varangian mercenaries saw my true nature, and I marked out The Goodwill of other Varangian Mercenaries as a Resource.
Jorgrimr eventually managed to drive Otgar away from the estate, and I add a new skill, Fighting Other Vampires, to my list of skills.
This prompt is directing me to create an advantage over another immortal character, taking something from them to become a mysterious resource, and striking out a memory to convert that memory into a skill.
Jorgrimr forgets about the warm thoughts of camaraderie between the mercenary companies, and his hardening heart learns the skill Controlling Others. Because Jorgrimr is not happy about how vulnerable he felt, he searches out The Black Wolf, and while he does not find it, he finds a cave and locates The Black Wolf’s Heart, which does not reside in the creature’s body.
This prompt tells me that I develop a system for feeding, and asks me to determine what happens to those who die, and tells me to create a skill to reflect this.
Jorgrimr still wants to feel human. He doesn’t want to be a predator. He limits his feeding to the soldiers that patrol near the estate, and he sets up ambushes where he can engage them. I start two mass graves near the back of the estate filled with heads and headless bodies. I pick up the skill Ambush from this prompt.
This prompt tells me to introduce a new immortal character, move to a new location, lose any location-based resources, and pick a new name when I move.
Konstantin finds out that he lost control of his estate, after he returns home from an extended trip for the last few years. Konstantin reaches out to the Unholy Man of the Woods, a sorcerer with a foul reputation in the area. The Unholy Man of the Woods subverts curses and takes control of the cursed, and Jorgrimr flees the estate and moves rather than become a thrall.
Jorgrimr adopts the name Wolfhart when he relocates to Naumberg, Germany.
The next prompt directs me to create a new immortal character and tells me that I gain a new Mark, and that I played a trick on this new immortal character.
Jorgrimr runs into the alchemist Karina Strosshammer. She retains eternal youth by administering her philosopher’s stone on the living to draw out their life force. I allow Karina to attempt to draw out my life force, knowing that I have no life to steal.
Karina gains permanent immortality. She is not a vampire, but an undead abomination that no longer ages, and she is very angry to have lost the warm glow of life. The philosopher’s stone turns my eyes red permanently.
Two mortals come into conflict, and I can gain a Resource from exploiting that conflict.
It has been over a decade since Jorgrimr was turned. He wants to know what has become of Anichka and his friend Ranssi. He finds out that they are quarreling over his estate. He sends word to them that he was secretly exiled for a crime he did not commit, and that it was all the fault of Konstantin.
It pains Jorgrimr that Anichka was worried about material gain, because Jorgrimr has lost sight of the fact that she needs that material wealth to survive. Jorgrimr has Ranssi sell off his assets and send them to Wolfhart in Germany, and he establishes a new estate.
The prompt tells me that an immortal character ends up being more than they initially seemed, and that I need to check a skill or else lose a Resource or a Memory, but that the event also allows me to gain a Resource or a Skill.
Jorgrimr travels to find out more about The Black Wolf. He does not enter into Konstantin’s sphere of influence, but he finds out, while traveling in Eastern Europe, that The Black Wolf is the child of the god Czernobog. He finds a vial of the Blood of Czernobog. Jorgrimr uses the skill Enduring Hardships on the Road to make this journey of discovery.
This prompt tells me that society has been drastically changing due to the meddling of immortals, and asks that I determine who benefits, what resources I lose, and tells me to gain a Resource, a Skill, or a Mark.
It has been another five years, and the Unholy Man of the Woods has been on Wolfhart’s trail. They initiate a shadow war, as Wolfhart uses the Heart of the Black Wolf to force the creature to engage the Unholy Man, and Jorgrimr manipulates his old allies, those that are still alive and in the region, to oppose Konstantin’s forces. The mercenaries die, and the countryside is terrified of the unholy creatures ravaging their homes at night.
Karina Strosshammer rises greatly in power, as she collects the bodies and captures the rogue spirits set loose in the shadow war.
This prompt tells me that there has been a major shift in how trade works, and that it somehow works to my advantage. I need to check a skill and create a skill-based on a memory.
Karina Strosshammer has created steam-powered conveyances that can move goods efficiently across the continent, revolutionizing trade. While Wolfhart is no ally to Karina, he uses his ability of Knowing What Business Partners to Trust to set up his own shipping company, and acquires the skill of Shipping Magnate.
This prompt tells me that I’m outside when the sun is rising, and I need to create a mortal child character, and to create an experience that reflects the humanizing effects of this meeting.
Anichka is getting older. Wolfhart wants to see her before she is gone. He travels back to Kiev, but he is not being careful, and the sun comes up. Kisaiya, a child that is part of a traveling caravan, takes Wolfhart in, and tells her family that Wolfhart is ailing.
The family cares for Wolfhart, offers him food, drink, and company, and he feels more human than he has felt in decades.
This prompt tells me that I have mastered a new science or field of knowledge, and that my vampire nature gives me special insight to master these studies, and I can make a skill based on a memory.
Wolfhart visits Kisaiya for the next few years, as she is growing up, and he finds out that she has a strange disease of the blood. Wolfhart uses some of his blood, and the Blood of Czernobog, to create an elixir of health that soothes those with blood diseases, and Kisaiya recovers.
Wolfhart gains the skill Alchemical Physician.
The First Few Decades of Immortality It occurs to me that after playing through this, I might have a good framework for an urban fantasy or horror campaign, with several notable NPCs and world events to build on.
I am having a lot of fun playing through these prompts. I especially like that I’m not just defining my story, but several prompts are widening what the world looks like as more characters and events are introduced.
It occurs to me that after playing through this, I might have a good framework for an urban fantasy or horror campaign, with several notable NPCs and world events to build on. Because the prompts don’t explicitly mention the exact passage of time, it has also been interesting getting an idea of how long it is between these prompts.
What the Future Holds
If you have any questions about the process so far, please let me know in the comments below. It is a fascinating ongoing process to try to get into the head of Jorgrimr/Wolfhart and think the way he would think as history unfolds.