RPG Autopsy #8: Vampyr (Part Eight – Funeral Bites)

(Welcome to part eight of our mini-series on Vampyr. If you missed part one, you can find it here. Today we’ll be learning more about vampires, attending funerals, and confessing our sins.) 

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With Nurse Crane out of the way, we’ve finally solved Lady Ashbury’s blackmail problem – no longer will she have to fear anyone spreading rumours about her feeding on the hospital’s patients. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, was worth turning Nurse Crane’s brain to soup, and completely gutting her clinic (you know, the one that provided vital medical services for the poor and downtrodden of London).

When we walk in to tell Lady Ashbury the good news we find her…feeding on one of the hospital’s patients. Reid acts bafflingly surprised, considering (a) she’s a vampire, and (b) Nurse Crane literally told us Lady Ashbury kills patients that’s what this whole thing was about Reid.

She tells us that she only feeds on those hopeless, already-dying patients, so it’s probably all fine really. At this point I trust her about as far as I can throw her, but she’s our only contact in the vampire world, so we can’t really afford to get on her bad side (also, Reid probably fancies her, because of course that’s a thing that’s going to happen).

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Lady Ashbury, seen here drinking someone’s blood in a busy, crowded hospital, later lectures us  repeatedly on the importance of discretion.

In return for our efforts in clearing her good name, she gives us some important information about vampires, and this whole vampire situation we’ve found ourselves in. As always with Vampyr, these worldbuilding bombs are short, sharp, and genuinely interesting, and while I did sometimes feel frustrated when Reid decided not to ask some particularly obvious follow-up questions, this long conversation works well (it also helps that a lot of these points are things that we’ve seen hints of before, meaning this conversation feels less like a lore dump, and more like finding the answer to juicy mysteries).

She clarifies some things we’ve been guessing at, such as:

  • the nature of vampires (vampires as we know them = Ekons. Other species of vampires = exist. Skals = deformed offspring of ‘lesser’ vampires, that are ‘slaves to their base instincts’)
  • the Guard of Priwen (an ancient secret society dedicated to destroying all vampires, lesser now than they once were), and
  • miscellaneous vampire facts (vampires create new vampires by giving a mortal some of their vampire blood to drink, but it’s very frowned upon to sire new vampires without then showing them the vampire ropes, so Reid’s creator must be a bit of a dick).

We also tell her about the voice in our head, and ask if it might be the voice of our creator. She tells us to keep this a secret, as only Incredibly Powerful Vampires can telepathically speak to their progeny, and that means there’s an unknown Incredibly Powerful Vampire skulking around London (which is not good for vampire high society).

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Dr Swansea breaking the news of our sister’s death to us, our sister’s killer.

After our chat, we analyse the blood we took from Nurse Crane’s patient, and learn that while he did have the Spanish Flu, his blood also had that same unstable nature we previously saw with Skals. Which makes sense, considering the epidemic seems to be creating lots of Skals. Like, hundreds upon hundreds of Skals on the streets of this borough alone. Has no one else gone outside recently?

We report our findings to Dr. Swansea, who, while intrigued, also has some bad news for us – our sister Mary is dead. We know this, obviously, since we killed her, but in something of a dick move, we don’t tell Dr Swansea (who seems very uncomfortable being the bearer of bad news) that we already know.  Regardless, the funeral’s being held soon at the local ceremony, and Reid decides to attend.

So we head to Stonebridge Cemetery, and fight half the population of London on our way there.

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Don’t ever say this game doesn’t isn’t good at framing a shot.

I may have said it before, but this game really has a problem with this kind of thing. You’re constantly moving around the city between quests, and every time you do so you bump into dozens of enemies. Either you choose to fight each group you encounter (all of whom are incredible damage sponges on hard mode), which takes time and provides genuinely pathetic rewards (around 8xp for killing a group of enemies, in a game where the smallest upgrade costs 300xp), or you do the smart thing and just learn to run past them all.

THIS WEEK’S INSIGHTFUL GAME DESIGN LESSON: 

Every combat encounter in your game should be to a purpose. If a combat encounter is ‘give the player something to do while they’re travelling back and forth between quests’ then that combat encounter’s purpose is ‘wasting the player’s time’

Regardless of how interesting your game’s combat is (and Vampyr’s is B- for an RPG), your players will get bored of it after the fifteenth time they’re forced into combat on the way to their next quest.

By all means, fill your game with interesting, authored combat encounters, but there’s no reason to make players fight random goons over and over again. It’s not interesting, it wastes time, and it just makes your game world feel strangely small and artificial. 

After decimating the population of London’s East End, we arrive just in time to pay our respects to our dead sister Mary – making sure to watch from afar, as Reid decides this probably isn’t the best time to let our grieving mother know we’re back in London.

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Lady Ashbury tells us not to abandon our humanity, a few minutes after draining all the blood of her latest victim for her undead sustenance.

After the funeral, Reid heads to Mary’s grave and begins to half grieve, half beg his sister’s forgiveness for accidentally vampire murdering her. Almost immediately we’re interrupted by Lady Ashbury.

She warns Reid to hold onto his humanity, but she also warns us that our ‘enemies’ (!?) want us weak, and that we’re weakest when we’re consumed by guilt and grief. Continuing her attempts to tell us exactly how we should be responding to the death of our sister, she suggests we make a confession at Saint Mary’s Church (forgive me, but I think it might be a bit heavy-handed that the church shares Mary’s name).

On the way to the church we’re accosted by a frankly gigantic grey man, who introduces himself by telling us we ‘reek of guilt and pointless compassion’ (again, harsh), and talks mysteriously of ‘Ascalon’ – a name we’ve heard before, but have no real context for just yet.

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We’ll be seeing more of Big Grey Man later, don’t you worry.

After gently threatening us with a smashing if we don’t abide by Ascalon’s laws that we know nothing about and that he doesn’t explain, he vanishes into the night. Slightly shaken by our encounter with…whatever that was, we make our way to Saint Mary’s Church.

There, we talk to the vicar, and Reid kind of freaks out a little bit, immediately trying to back out of this whole confession thing. It’s a great scene, and Reid’s voice actor consistently sells his delicate, unsteady state of mind very well. It’s clear that not only is Reid struggling to deal with his sister’s death (and his own role in it), but that he also is having a really tough time throwing aside his sceptical, materialist worldview and opening up to the possibility of religious forgiveness.

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Good stuff. Good lighting. Great nose.


Next week we’ll be continuing our investigation into the epidemic, and heading back to find out more at the docks.

For now, though – as always,  you can follow me on Twitter by clicking here. And if you like RPG Autopsy – why not be lovely by supporting me on my newly-opened Patreon?Alternatively, if you hate RPG Autopsy – why not spite me by supporting me on my newly-opened Patreon? Find that Patreon here.

 

 

 

 

 

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