RPG Autopsy #9: Vampyr (Part Nine – Whoso Eateth My Flesh)

(Welcome to part nine of our mini-series on Vampyr. If you missed part one, you can find it here. Today we’ll be heading back to the docks,  investigating a murder, and following the trail of the most Irish man in the world.)

83b13658f32fedd861793cb756f265895c63ec92

When we arrive back at Pembroke Hospital things are in a right bloody state. We find Dr. Swansea locked in a rather tense standoff with Geoffrey McCullum – leader of the vampire-hunting Guard of Priwen. When McCullum sees us he immediately clocks us as a vampire (or, in Guard of Priwen rude anti-vampire language: ‘a leech’), and the gears shift from ‘tense’ to ‘imminent bossfight’.

Fortunately, after a long staring contest, McCullum finally blinks. He leaves, and Dr. Swansea gives us some (more) bad news: apparently the man we saved back at the docks – the priest Sean Hampton – was infected, and has now become a skal. It seems he killed a patient – one Harriet Jones – and fled into the night. As a result, the Guard of Priwen is now convinced the hospital is harbouring vampires (which, I mean, it is).

Since Dr. Swansea’s very keen to avoid a public investigation (possibly because of all the vampires), it’s up to us to track Sean Hampton down.

50

We will definitely not be seeing McCullum again, no siree. No foreshadowing here whatsoever.

This takes us back to the docks. Looking at the District menu, we see Hampton is the ‘Pillar’ of the docks – i.e. the person who keeps the whole community together in the face of the epidemic. Killing the Pillar of a district is bad news, which we saw when we (accidentally) killed Nurse Crane back in Whitechapel – the Health Status of the whole district plummeted, coming terrifyingly close to ‘Hostile’ (at which point everyone in the district disappears, you lose all their side quests, and it becomes full of high-level enemies for the rest of the game).

So I’m not super keen on killing Hampton – hopefully there’s a way to solve this grisly murder amicably.

When we arrive at the docks we’re greeted by a dead body splayed out in the street. It’s being examined by one Ichabod Throgmorton – a ‘vampire hunter’, and man who’s genuinely called ‘Ichabod Throgmorton’. While Throgmorton declares the death the work of a vampire, and acts like he’s the world’s foremost expert on vampire hunting, it’s immediately obvious that he’s either a charlatan, or an absolute idiot (possibly both).

51

There are some great NPCs and side quests in the docks, but I’ll save that for another time.

 

The conversation with Throgmorton is great, because Reid is obviously having the time of his life. Throgmorton is a delightful mix of pompous and utterly clueless, and when Reid asks him about the vampire threat there’s a constant tone of barely-suppressed mockery in his voice. Throgmorton is bang on about the existence of vampires, sure, but (a) he can’t even recognise one when he’s looking right at it, and (b) he’s clearly never actually fought a vampire, and wouldn’t last two seconds if he tried.

Not getting too much useful information from Throgmorton, vampire hunter extraordinaire, we turn to the rest of the locals. Asking around, we quickly learn that Hampton is a Catholic priest, and that he runs a ‘night asylum’ for the homeless in the western part of the Docks.

We can technically go confront him right now. But I don’t want to rush things – looking at Hampton in the NPC menu, I notice there are two as-yet undiscovered Hints about him. So we ask some more NPCs about him, and learn the following:

  1. He was abandoned as a baby back in Ireland, and raised at a catholic orphanage
  2. While there, he was molested by a priest, but his faith has remained strong
53

I just noticed how weird the shelves in the background look, and now I can’t unsee it.

I’ve talked before about how well Vampyr handles these kinds of Very Serious topics, and this is no different. It’s not sensationalised, and it isn’t just there for the sake of giving the game the feeling of being a grown-up game for grown-up people. These kinds of traumas are sprinkled throughout the game because this is a game about people, and these kinds of traumas are sprinkled throughout people’s lives. It’ll also prove relevant soon, as we’ll see in next week’s post.

With all of Hampton’s Hints unlocked, we head to his Night Asylum (I’m not going to mention this every time we travel somewhere, but don’t forget that whenever you move between safe zones in Vampyr you’ll constantly be interrupted by fight after tedious fight with by-now very boring enemies, and almost no reward for your troubles).

When we arrive, we find that no only is Hampton a card-carrying skal, he’s not particularly upset with that fact – or particularly interested in hiding it. While he’s not going about telling mortals he’s now a vampire, he’s more happy to talk to us about his new condition.

54

The lighting in this game really works wonders at times.

 

We learn from Hampton that skal are not just crappy vampires, but that their diet is completely different – while ‘true’ vampires like us (i.e. Ekons) must drink fresh human blood, skals merely (merely!) eat human flesh. As a result, while we kill anyone we drink from, skals can – if they control their hunger sufficiently – survive on the flesh of the already-dead.

He also tells us that his status as a horrible flesh-eating night monster is actually a blessing from the lord. While my eyes immediately rolled at this, he actually makes a pretty decent point – as an immortal, he’s immune to disease, so he can help people suffering from the epidemic without fear of infecting himself. Also, while us Ekons are repelled by holy symbols, Hampton is not, and proudly wears his crucifix even now.

After getting school by Hampton on scripture, Reid accuses him of killing Harriet Jones.  Hampton is shocked by this accusation, and tells us that he didn’t, and that he can prove his innocence. He gives us a key to the sewers and tells us we’ll understand more if we go there. If we still think he’s a threat when we get back, well: “I’ll surrender myself to your judgement”

55

I do slightly resent being lectured by a flesh-eating gremlin man.

He seems to be telling the truth. I mean, he certainly seems to be on the up and up, and his friendly Irish accent is incredibly disarming, but who the hell knows at this point? Guess it’s down into the sewers, where we’ll most likely find a trap the truth behind all this.

THIS WEEK’S INSIGHTFUL GAME DESIGN LESSON: 

(bit of a minor one here) Deciding whether or not you trust someone who seems on the level, but could be lying through their teeth is inherently compelling.

Something RPGs could benefit from focusing on more of is this exact kind of stripped-back human drama – sometimes being forced to answer gut-feeling questions like ‘is this person bullshitting me?’ or ‘do I think this person has really changed?’ is sd compelling as any amount of investigation and gathering of iron-clad evidence.


Next week we’ll head into the sewers and find out what happened to the apparently-murdered Harriet Jones. In the meantime, 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’ve read this far out of some misguided sense of hate – why not spite me by supporting me on my newly-opened Patreon? Find that Patreon here.

 

This entry was posted in Games Blather, RPG Autopsy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s