The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Friday, 17 August 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: Blood Dark Thirst

This is a review of the RPG "Blood Dark Thirst", written by Venger Satanis, published by Korthalis Publishing. This is a thin volume, only about 24 pages (including the character sheet).  It's a softcover, well-designed with full-color cover and full-color glossy interior pages. The cover features a fairly gory image of a vampire with fangs exposed and blood all over their face. The interior contains several full-color illustrations, mostly of the gruesome but occasionally of the sultry variety.

Before proceeding, I should note that while I have nothing personally to do with this book, nor do I have any financial connection to the publisher, the author is my co-host on the Inappropriate Characters Youtube show. I don't think this will affect my assessment of the product in any way, but for the sake of transparency I'm pointing this out.

Blood Dark Thirst is an RPG where you play a vampire. Yes, that's been done at least a couple of times before; so we'll have to see how it compares to those other games.
For starters, you get a particular vampire-origin-story: in ancient times sorcerers were taught by powerful demons how to incarnate demons in the bodies of recently-dead criminals or victims of violence. These demons have the standard thirst for human blood.  Characters are presumed to be very recent vampires, in the relative sense, being under 100 years old.  They were created by other demons.

We're also informed that there's some vampires who are seeking to bring forth Armageddon, to open a gateway to hell and cause a reign of darkness and chaos on Earth.  PCs will have to decide whether they want to side with those vampires, or try to prevent the apocalypse either to protect humanity or rule it.

The system used in Blood Dark Thirst is reminiscent of Venger's house system from Alpha Blue. This involves the GM deciding a number of dice rolled in a pool to attempt something. Only the highest die is read, and the result thus ranges from 1 ("critical failure") to 6 ("critical success"). Some guidance is provided for the number of dice rolled; in essence if the PC is attempting something they're "well suited for" they roll 3d6. Circumstances can modify base rolls, so that a positive circumstance adds one more die to the pool, and negative circumstances remove one from the pool.  The latter means that a roll might theoretically be 0d6, in which case a player rolls 2 dice and uses the lower result.
Combat works in a similar fashion, except that multiple 6s in rolls count for extra damage; damage is derived from the result of the die pool roll. Initiative is spontaneous. Characters have Health Points, but vampires don't die at 0 health (mortals do), they just become unconscious. Vampires can only die by decapitation or by fire (sunlight, of course, causes vampires to burst into flames).

Character creation involves choosing three things their character is good at, two they're bad at, three flaws, one quirk, and then cosmetic details like age, apparent age, gender, name, etc.
Tables are provided for random flaws, random things you're good or bad at, and random names (but rolling randomly is not obligatory). Obviously, this is a very fast-and-loose system for a very rules-light game.  If that's something you really dig, you'll find this system quite adequate; if you want serious crunch, this will not be the game for you.

Characters also begin with certain supernatural powers. All vampire PCs start with unnatural strength, lightning reflexes, and allure (letting them dominate weak-willed mortals). Beyond that characters get one new power per level, which is rolled randomly on a d20.
Characters also have a "humanity" rating, which ranges from 1 to 6 (PCs start with 6).  A humanity of 6 means they look just like a normal human; while characters with humanity 1 look entirely "demonic and bestial". Characters lose points of humanity for performing evil acts, and regain them by performing "virtuous and good deeds".

Vampires have a 'Blood' statistic as well. They gain Blood points by feeding, and can hold up to 6 points of blood. They can spend blood points for a variety of purposes, including healing themselves and activating supernatural powers. Characters who are low on blood (3 or less) are at risk of entering into Bloodlust, becoming frenzied and violent and trying to feed on whoever is nearby. In keeping with the theme of humanity versus devilishness, Vampires who cause their victims suffering and fear before feeding on them will get double the usual value from the mortal blood; but in exchange they lose humanity points. Feeding blood to another vampire causes that vampire to be 'bonded' to the one who fed them, and similarly humans who are fed vampire blood become enslaved to the vampire.

Another special statistic is Willpower; characters can use Willpower to resist bloodlust, avoid mental control, spawning a new vampire (along with spending 1 point of blood), and adding dice to their dice pool for a roll. Willpower is recovered by roleplaying flaws.

There's also rules for grabbing and feeding on a victim, avoiding being spotted, and the level of opposition.

Character advancement is done in levels. At the end of a campaign (a GM-determined number of adventures) the character advances to level 2, then 3, etc. Leveling is pretty simple: you just gain more health (hit points), another power, and you're now more powerful for the use of blood-bonding. The book ends with a very, very simple adventure. It's 3 pages long and amounts to an intro wherein the PCs have pissed off a powerful vampire, and then some random tables.

So on the whole, what to say about Blood Dark Thirst?  Well, for starters, it's better than Vampire.

It is definitely rules-light, but packs some good mechanics within that framework. In fact, for such a tiny product it is quite condensed with most of the mechanics you'd need to run a vampiric campaign. Of course, there's practically no real setting (other than "vampires!", and the lip service to different conflicting groups in vampiric society); but some GMs might like to have the chance to set up their own setting context for the game.

If you think you could like that, and you're actually looking for a vampire-themed game that isn't nearly as irritating as Vampire: the Masquerade, you should check it out.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Quiete + Gawith's Commonwealth


  1. Glad you enjoyed Blood Dark Thirst. It was my neo-quasi OSR attempt at re-writing Vampire: the Masquerade. Definitely needs a supplement, but I've been distracted.

    1. You keep using that word OSR, I don't think you know what that word means.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.