GTM #117 - The Man Himself: Count Dracula!
by Russell Bailey & Ben Baugh

The Count – if you even believe he exists – attracts rumor like flies to spilled blood. It’s almost impossible to believe a modern vampire hip to the new age would even dare carry that name. Big D... there’s no more iconic name associated with the vampire than that one. But one thing that’s important to remember when dealing with the Count is that he has no sense of irony at all. He says he is Count Dracula, and screw you if you have a problem with that. 

Background2In a weird way, he’s guileless and honest. Look at the guy – he’s a meat-grinder, a tattooed cycle Viking nearly seven feet tall, and if you piss him off he’ll punch in your teeth, grab your tongue and eat it. How could the Man’s true nature be writ any larger? But there’s the flip-side, because anybody big and willing to do horrible, horrible things to people can be a thug, yet there’s actual poetry in the Count’s soul. Yeah, alright, it’s mostly poetry about the beauty of atrocity, but it’s lyrical. So if there’s a big secret to the Count, it’s that everything the Man says about himself is true, but he doesn’t say everything. He’s got no problem lying for expediency’s sake, but there’s absolutely nothing about himself he’d conceal with deception. He really is the rightful holder of the title. He really is a Man of Education. He really is a man one does not mess with.

But where the Count is elemental, he’s surrounded by the spectral – if he’s a Count, where are his lands?  He’s highly mobile, seems independent of factionalism, and yet seems to pop up in places where secret Kindred cold wars turn hot. On nights of long knives, his is often the longest, making some think he’s some kind of freelance enforcer, but that’s not the case at all. The Count has an agenda, and he’s got an insight into Kindred politics few can guess at. The elder Dracula fought monsters, within himself and without, but what he really fought was chaos. In his life and his Requiem, he sought to impose order and stability through the judicious application of extreme brutality. His namesake does the same astride a massive custom motorcycle, engine thundering subsonic like summer storm-call. He arrives and to all appearances throws a situation into frenzied pandemonium, with limbs and blood and innards thrown about the place with an almost festive profligacy. Yet when he roars off racing the dawn, and the survivors pick up the pieces and get their Requiems back on track, they find that things generally work smoother, like the machinery of Kindred society had been tuned up, been well greased. This leads some to reconsider the intrusion of the Count into their lives, until they remember that the machinery has been greased mostly with blood.

The Count’s agenda is simple: the Kindred will survive... though he makes no guarantees about whether you will.

~ Rumors ~

“Yeah, okay, so he’s scary and all, but what you really gotta worry about is his mom.”

Nomadic Kindred may be numerous, but to the settled kind, they’re still scary and exotic.Background1City vampires get all superstitious and look for connections where there might not be any. The number one speculation surrounding the Count, and one he has never been known to confirm or deny, is his specific lineage: that he’s the grandchilde of Dracula, by way of the Unholy.

Story goes like this: Dracula Senior had this prim and proper bride, right? And somewhere along the way, she snapped or she got snapped and went crazy on the back roads of America, and maybe there were Indians and now she’s got claws and blackbird powers or something. That’s the Unholy, and you best get out of her way.

So one time some guy doesn’t get out of her way and she claws his guts out and he bites her ear off and she’s impressed. So she brings him back to life, but there’s more to it. He’s smart. She makes him smarter. She takes him to some crazy monastery and teaches him discipline and control and self-knowledge and all of the things the original Dracula taught her.

And then she tries to snap him, like she snapped. And she fails. He stays cool and collected and practically zen, and she flies off in a cloud of black-winged birds. And the Count just dusts himself off and finds himself a dive bar and a good book.

“He’s a biker, right, so he’s got girls. Only he’s Dracula, so they ain’t girls; they’re Brides.”

Old Dracula started a revolution. He was methodical, eventually even enlightened. In many ways, the man for his time and place in the Fog of Ages. Some Kindred say that this Count is also the man for his time, and that he, too, leads a revolution. They say that the Count is taking the beautiful and the bestial and the badass and making them into something more, that he is teaching them not to hide behind mortals but to take what they need and never look back. These Kindred have become his Brides.

The Brides, supposedly, are a group of roving Kindred structured like an outlaw motorcycle gang. None of them were turned by the Count – there’s still just one Dracula – but they follow his way of life, his philosophy. Whether or not he actually leads them is a subject of debate, mostly because nobody wants to imagine the Count at the head of an army. Brides of Dracula can be boys or girls, and they don’t heed the Traditions as such. Instead, they make their own way, help each other out, and have a good time every night of their Requiems. Like the Count, they leave big messes behind. But somehow, mortals still haven’t twigged yet that they’re out there.

In the Southwest, folks say the Brides have been re-patching Bruja. Folks say there’s a war coming.

“Eight feet tall, pierced and tattooed, completely indestructible... come on, does that sound like a vampire to you?”

Yes, there are those who doubt the Count, who do not believe that he could really be Count Dracula. Those who doubt, however, still fear, and still talk. They say that he is not Dracula’s grandchilde, but his creation.

In his quest to understand the Kindred condition, the story goes, the original Dracula sought to understand life and death directly. If fire was the bane of vampires, then it must be the basis of humanity in some way. So Dracula spent years seeking the fire within humanity, and ways to transform and refine it. He sought to transcend vampirism by creating a creature like a vampire, yet with the fire of a man.

His creation was a hideous failure. Indeed, the massive corpse he raised could face the sun, and did not suffer a hunger for blood. It even burned within. Yet where the Kindred were cursed within, this creature carried a curse without, blighting any land it slept upon, forever ruining everything it touched.

Dracula abandoned the monster in disgust. Yet, in its crude way, it aped him and took on his identity, eventually becoming the Count of modern legend.

DraculaPicName: Count Dracula

Clan: Gangrel

Covenant: Unaligned

Apparent Age: Mid-30s, difficult to tell with tattoos and piercings

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 4, Resolve 3

Physical Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4

Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulate 2, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Academics 3, Investigation 3, Occult 3, Politics 1,  Science 1

Physical Skills: Athletics 3, Brawl 5 (Dirty), Drive 2 (Motorcycle), Firearms 2, Larceny 1, Stealth 1, Survival 2, Weaponry 2

Social Skills: Intimidation 3 (Staredown), Persuasion 1, Socialize 1,  Streetwise 2, Subterfuge 1

Merits: Brawling Dodge 1, Dirty Fighting 5, Fame 1, Giant 4

Willpower: 6

Humanity: 4

Virtue: Fortitude

Vice: Wrath

Health: 10

Initiative: 6

Defense: 3

Speed: 12

Blood Potency: 3

Disciplines: Animalism 1, Protean 2, Resilience 3

Devotions: Serpent in the Belly

Vitae/per Turn: 12/1

Legacy Fighting Style: Dirty Fighting (• to ••••• )

Prerequisites: Strength (•••), Brawl (•••) Effect:

Your character has learned a brutal, artless form of fighting intended to inflict the most punishment on the most people as quickly as possible – no elegance, no style, no forms, katas, training regimes or coaches. This is a way of kicking ass learned by doing it, by kicking ass until it’s as natural as breathing. Fighting dirty also teaches your character about getting his ass kicked, because there’s no safe way to learn. You learn it by fighting in gutters and poolrooms, alleys, trenches, prison yards and biker bars. Hit first, hit hardest, hit last, and then kick his teeth in when he falls down. The best opponent is the one who’s choking on his own puke and rolling on around on the ground clutching his smashed testicles. It says a lot about your character that she’s fought often enough and hard enough to get this good at it. 

Low Blow (•)

Effect: This suggests a male target, but there’s places on the female body just as sensitive and just as dishonorable to stick your boot in. Nail your opponent with a really nasty blow to a really sensitive area, and leave them swaying on their feet, trying not to vomit from the sick vision-twisting pain. A successful Brawl attack that generates more successes than your target’s Composure causes them to lose their next action.

Shank (••)

Effect: You can fight with knives, small blades, shanks and other small improvised weapons using your Brawl skill rather than Weaponry.

Suck it Up (•••)

Effect: As much as you know about dishing out the pain, you’ve also learned something about taking it. Quit whining and suck it up. Spend a point of Willpower, and ignore all wound penalties for the remainder of the scene.

One or a Dozen, It Don’t Matter (••••)

Effect: You know all the tricks for fighting more than one guy at the same time – how to get them in each other’s way, hurt one bad to scare another, and psyche them out. Each opponent beyond the first you’re facing in close combat adds 1 to your Defense and you can spend a point of Willpower each to make simultaneous additional brawl attacks on two or more of these opponents. 

I Said Stay Down! (•••••)

Effect: After making a successful Low Blow, your victim has to make a Stamina roll. If successful, they only lose their next action like normal. If they fail, they go down in a mewing pathetic heap and clutch their ruptured vitals, turtling up in hopes that you won’t keeping hurting them.

New Devotion: Serpent in the Belly (Fortitude••, Animalism•••, Protean••)

Learn this devotion and a serpent wakes in your belly, rising up in coils around your spine and whispering in your ear when your allies call. There’s some mystical hoodoo involved – you mark them at their temples and lips with your blood when you teach them how to whisper the magic words, and they sacrifice a little of their blood to the serpent when they do – but once invoked you can sense their presence, their general condition, and you can find them wherever they are. Marking a friend costs 1 Vitae, and they remain marked until you decide to withdraw your protection of them. When they call the serpent, they spend a point of Vitae (or if mortal, take a point of bashing damage) and you can immediately sense them and know which direction they are in. You can’t read their thoughts, but you know if they’re in pain and their general emotional state. If they are in trouble, you know it. If they move while the serpent is awake, you know how far and how fast based on how their proximity to you changed. Each call lasts a whole night, and then your ally must re-invoke it after sleeping.

Serpent in the Belly costs 21 XP to purchase.