What if Dracula weren’t just a novel? Good news, vampire/vampire RPG fans—it’s not! In fact, it’s a censored after-action report of the failed British Intelligence attempt to recruit a vampire in 1894. Dracula Unredacted, carefully re-assembled by Ken Hite, restores deleted sections and adds the annotations of three successive generations of MI6 operatives. And that’s not all! Pelgrane Press writer Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is building a framework of NPCs, locations, objects, and idea nodes into The Dracula Dossier: Director’s Handbook, a collaborative world-building campaign framework for Night’s Black Agents (think Armitage Files, Bookhounds of London, and the new Dreamhounds of Paris).
How to get a piece of the action? The Dracula Dossier is funding on Kickstarter through December 3, 2014. It’s already at 400% of its original goal and has stretch goals lined up around the block.
We’re Helping Expose the Conspiracy!
While we at The Illuminerdy would have been excited enough about this project even if we weren’t involved, at least one of our writers (ok, it’s me) and possibly more are involved in the project’s stretch goals. My scenario has already funded and will be a standalone PDF. It’s tentatively titled Blood Coda:
In 1971, the director of the Royal Opera House in London announces a coup. He has smuggled the Ballet Brașov through the Iron Curtain and engaged them to perform a new work, “Strigoii.” The London art scene buzzes with excitement over rumors of the dancers’ superhuman strength and grace and of the edginess of their choreographer’s work. Your agents hear a darker story of stability-shattering performances and strange disappearances. The company performs before Her Majesty in one week’s time. What will you do?
If you were to think King in Yellow meets ballet meets vampires meets gothic horror, you’d have an idea of the direction I’m taking it.
Inside the Dracula Dossier
Not only am I excited to be a part of the project, but I’ve also been given access to the current draft of the Director’s Handbook. The bad news: I can’t yet give examples or detailed reviews. The good news: I can share my general thoughts.
When I first sat down with the Director’s Handbook, it took me about 30 minutes to get through the first 6 pages. This isn’t because they’re bad—not at all. This is because they’re exactly the sort of thing I love about alternate history and I kept fact-checking/reading up on the “true story” as I read. I don’t know how many hours Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan put into his research, but the result is beautiful. In quite a few places, he skirts so close to the edge of fact that I can’t prove it’s not actually true.
The persons, objects, and locations described in the book are flexible enough to suit a variety of campaigns. For example, was Mina Murray a part of the operation? Was she actually working for Dracula? Was she an innocent caught up in all of this? The Handbook provides several paragraphs of character background for each of these possibilities. Is a location a hotbed of vampiric activity or does it just provide some clues to take you to the real base of operations? What other locations or objects might it be connected to?
Besides being a font of hooks you could use for your Dossier or other Night’s Black Agents campaign (or heck, your book!), the Dossier provides a framework for putting together all that goodness into your own conspiracy and campaign. It uses both a “conspyramid” and “vampyramid,” like in Night’s Black Agents, and has pages of suggestions on ways you can plug things from the handbook into the parts of these pyramids.
I’m looking forward to doing a more detailed review when Pelgrane gives me the ok, but I can say that I love what I’ve read so far (what I’ve got’s about 280 pages of PDF, so I haven’t finished it yet) and I wholeheartedly recommend backing this kickstarter or checking out the Handbook, at least, when it comes out.