Dungeons & Dragons Online

Crafting an NPC that is a Vampire By Choice, for the Greater Good

A little while back, I created a one-shot for my group wherein they got to play evil-aligned kobolds that had been previously encountered by the main PCs. The players had fun with their backstories and I wanted to reward them by inserting some of what they'd created into the world lore. In particular, one of the PCs – a genie warlock – was little more than an empty shell of a kobold, capable of saying only the word "Bottle," and otherwise filled with a deep internal hatred towards a newly-introduced figure named "Zoltar the Magnificent" – an old Merchant King from a few thousand years past. The player told me in no uncertain terms, "Zoltar is dead." Why the Genie (and by extension, the Warlock PC) hates this dead man is beyond my player's understanding – and he didn't seek to answer that question. But I immediately loved the idea and tried to work Zoltar into the main campaign.

I was able to do so shortly thereafter, when the main campaign PCs met a wealthy young aristocratic at a social event hosted in his mansion. Among other things, this NPC provides funding for the local orphanage. Long story short, this guy was also designed to be a vampire. On a whim, I also decided that he would claim to be a descendant of Zoltar the Magnificent. The NPC claimed that he devoted his monies to various charitable endeavors as a way to "make amends" for the fact that his family made its fortune off of slave labour and violent conflict.

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A detect magic spell cast for unrelated reasons later on in the session confirmed that a necrotic energy emanated off of the figure, as well as from a medallion he wore around his neck. They haven't followed this thread as of yet but it will undoubtedly come up again.

A future plot hook will likely reveal the NPC's vampirism to the party. He feeds off of charmed orphan children and either erases their memories or else turns them into his spawn at their request (typically when they are older and decide that life as his spawn is better than life as a beggar with no family). An unrelated monster is going to start feeding on orphans, prompting the party to explore some leads and possibly end up in his lair. I'd like to think that he will be able to convince the party to ally with him – but who knows.

What I'd really love is for a tie-in to Zoltar. I want to honour my Player's decision that Zoltar is long-dead. However, I love the idea of tying the medallion into the story, and using it as a curse of sorts. The first thought that comes to mind is that the medallion was discovered by Zoltar long ago, and used as a unique magical artifact towards an insidious purpose (phylactery, pursuing lichhood, etc?). The NPC (a not-so-distant relative) cut Zoltar down at the height of his ascent to power and now wears the medallion in order to keep Zoltar's soul trapped. But the terrible power within it essentially corrupts his soul for as long as it is worn, prompting the curse.

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I'd love some help fleshing out the idea, or coming up with a new idea entirely! Bonus points if we can figure out why the nameless Genie (and his deranged kobold warlock) hate Zoltar. Are they the same figure? Is the warlock's lamp another of the phylacteries? A rival lich perhaps? What do you guys think?


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