In this week's blog, Seed & Sword's COO and Game Developer Evan Tessier walks us through blood, the main resource in Fading Haloes.
What’s a Vampire, How’s a Vampire, Why’s a Vampire
The player characters in Fading Haloes are vampires. They are formerly human creatures who were transformed by other vampires into vampires themselves.
A vampire is:
- An undead creature (once living, now alive again after having died);
- Who requires human blood to survive (we won’t dwell on how it’s obtained);
- Who is stronger and more resilient than a human (bullets are inconvenient, beheading still sucks);
- Who possesses supernatural powers of mind, body, and will (vampires are magic, basically);
- Who lives in fear of sunlight, which burns the body when touched by rays thereof (it’s not a one hit kill but it’s fast);
- Who exists in a mental condition that pits their basic human decency against the knowledge that they must be willing to profit directly from the suffering and death of other humans to survive;
- And who has irrefutable, unmistakable proof that there is something Dark and Evil in the world, something that once existed only in their imaginations and nightmares, and which only they are fundamentally equipped to protect themselves and their food source against.
In Fading Haloes, the ways in which a vampire can influence the world around themselves, establish bonds, and defend themselves against the encroaching evil of the Forces of Darkness are defined in terms of blood.
Blood is the term used to describe how well-fed the vampire is, and therefore how able they are to impose their will upon the world around them. The more blood a vampire possesses, the more able they are to enact change and stand firm in the face of change being enacted. Conversely, vampires with less blood are more susceptible to being affected by and changed by the wills of others, including both vampires and the Forces of Darkness.
In Fading Haloes, the amount of blood a vampire possesses is called their blood pool, and it is represented by physical cards marked with icons. These cards are not meant to represent actual liquid blood – they are representations of willpower, of promises, and of intentions, and can be exchanged between players to represent the forging of bonds between vampires.
Blood comes in four colors, each representative of a kind of bond.
Red Blood - Blood of the Heart
Blood of the Heart is represented by red cards with heart icons. Blood of the Heart is the blood of positive emotions and positive bonds, such as friendship, love, camaraderie, and support. It is used to fuel powers that further the aims of a vampire looking to forge bonds of a positive nature.
Blue Blood - Blood of the Fang
Blood of the Fang is represented by blue cards with fang icons. Blood of the Fang is the blood of negative emotions and negative bonds, such as enmities, rivalries, war, and the desire to destroy another person. It is used to fuel powers that further the aims of a vampire looking to forge bonds of a negative nature.
Purple Blood - Blood of the Coin
Blood of the Coin is represented by purple cards with diamond icons. Blood of the Coin is neither positive nor negative, and represents bonds that are transactional or temporary in nature. Business arrangements, temporary alliances or truces, and the acceptance of another vampire’s right to exist and claim territory are neutral, purple Coin bonds. It is used to fuel powers that signify and codify these bonds as existing.
Black Blood - Blood of the Dark
Blood of the Dark is represented by black cards with broken bone icons. Blood of the Dark represents the chaotic darkness that surges within a vampire’s predatory nature, and seduces them into embracing the destruction that the Forces of Darkness create. Blood of the Dark is earned not by forging bonds, but by breaking them, and fuels powers that cause irreparable harm to the well-being and trust of both the user and the victim. Unlike the other three kinds of blood, Blood of the Dark can never be traded or given away to other players.
Blood is Life
Because Fading Haloes is a game that prioritizes social community, verbal confrontation, and the changing harmonies between individuals and groups of people over physical conflict resolution, there is no way to directly attack other vampires, and therefore there is no “health.” Instead, there are conditions which determine how the vampire feels, and how easily the vampire can be swayed by, made insane by, or destroyed outright by the Forces of Darkness. These conditions are determined by how much red, blue, and purple blood the vampire has in their blood pool, and how much black blood they have as well. Vampires who are healthy and have a proper balance of red, blue, and purple blood to black blood are considered Hale and suffer no ill effects.
If a vampire possesses more black blood in their blood pool than they have red, blue, and purple blood, they are Drawn. Being Drawn means that the vampire has relied too greatly on their supernatural powers and has flirted with the darkness inside them, and they are hungry for more substantial blood. Their behavior is similar to that of someone struggling with an addiction and in need of satiation.
If a vampire has no blood in their blood pool, or if they only have black blood in their blood pool, they are Vulnerable. Being vulnerable means that a vampire is in danger – they are at risk of being driven permanently insane or even destroyed outright by the Forces of Darkness.
Thresholds of Purity and Sanity
There is no limit to how much blood a vampire can accumulate and hold in their blood pool during a scenario. However, they are constrained by their natural limits when it comes to how readily they accumulate it, and what happens when they accumulate too much.
A vampire’s Threshold of Purity determines how much red, blue, and purple blood they can begin a scenario with. No matter how many bonds they forge, how large their Circle becomes, or what extenuating circumstances dictate a surplus of blood, they cannot begin a scenario with more combined red, blue, and purple blood than this amount.
A vampire’s Threshold of Sanity determines how much black blood the vampire can accumulate before they begin to lose their grip on the vestiges of their humanity. If a vampire’s blood pool holds an amount of black blood equal to or greater than their Threshold of Sanity, they are Feral. Being Feral means that the vampire has completely lost hold of their humanity, and is willing to say and do anything to restore the balance of nutritious red, blue, or purple blood and black blood. Some vampires prefer being monsters – they choose to remain Feral.
A vampire can progress between being Drawn, Feral, and Vulnerable separately – they are neither mutually exclusive nor replacements for one another.
blood is strength
The supernatural ways in which a vampire can exert their will over other creatures are impressive and myriad. In Fading Haloes, Powers are special abilities that vampires have, which cause others to behave in ways dictated by the user of the Power, and which require the expenditure of blood from the blood pool to activate.
Powers are divided in the same ways as the colors of blood. Powers of the Heart deal with positive emotions and actions; Powers of the Fang deal with negative emotions and actions; Powers of the Coin are neither positive nor negative; and Powers of the Dark are destructive and harmful. In addition, there are unaligned Universal Powers, which every vampire can access.
Each use of a Power costs one point of blood of its matching color, or two points of any colors of non-matching blood. Universal Powers cost one point of blood of any color. A vampire who wishes to use positive powers and forge positive bonds should focus on accumulating red Blood of the Heart, to better and more efficiently use Powers of the Heart to charm others, diffuse hostile situations, and encourage others to resist their fear.
Spending blood is done in two ways. Red, blue, and purple blood cards must be given to a scenario marshal after they are used – they are removed from the blood pool.
Black blood is not expended when it is used – it is accumulated. When a vampire wishes to use black blood to fuel a Power, they signal to a scenario marshal that they are using black blood and are given a black blood card for every point of black blood they “spend.” Players can always resort to opening themselves up to the darkness inside them when they otherwise lack the blood to enact their will, and can do so as often as they like, provided they are willing to risk the dangers of becoming Drawn, Feral, or Vulnerable.
and there's more
Certain kinds of vampires have greater familiarity with certain colors of blood and types of Powers. We will discuss the Powers in greater detail, as well as how to accumulate and spend (or eliminate) blood from the blood pool, in a later article.