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lumpley games
Hungry Desperate and Alone

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Hungry Desperate and Alone
Personal horror? You can't handle personal horror.

Make up a vampire.

If you're ready, if you're serious, make yourself as a vampire. But I won't hold it against you.

In one dream we're frightened, the four of us, me, my lover, my friend, his. People have been dying quite terribly around us, on the subway, on the next block, in our apartment building. We think we're being hunted.

We're waiting on the platform, an open-air subway stop on central park. We're apprehensive, but my friend is flirting with a stranger. He asks her where she works and answering she sets her hand on his arm.

Cut to his lover, watching. Her face, all hail the effects crew in my head, her face changes. Jealousy makes her an animal, fanged, snarling, yellow-eyed. She crosses to him and whom she passes she kills. She tears a rib out of one, rips the throat of another, a third and a fourth, barely touching them with her fingers.

I run before she reaches him. I'm splattered like a war.

The first game: We use violence to protect ourselves from intimacy.

When an NPC meets you, she gets three stats:
-Attraction, at a level 1-6, depending on you and your actions.
-Pain, equal to zero.
-Horror, equal to zero.
and you and she share a stat:
-Intimacy, equal to zero.

Play starts with such a meeting.

Whenever you and the NPC come together, roll dice equal to the NPC's Attraction, minus her Horror. On a success, the NPC comes on to you. If you respond, the two of you get +1 Intimacy.

When (later on) her Horror outweighs her Attraction, reverse the math, and on a success she cuts off contact (or, knowing vampires, dies in the process) and your Intimacy with her goes back to 0.

When you drink an NPC's blood, it's satisfying proportional to your Intimacy with that NPC. You won't have to drink blood again for Intimacy2 nights. Being Hungry but not drinking blood is very very bad.

Every time you and the NPC are apart, roll dice equal to your Intimacy, minus the NPC's Pain. On a success, the NPC has a sudden terrible realization about you and gets +1 Horror.

So Pain, which would include confusion, betrayal, fear, and actual injuries, interferes with her ability to understand your nature.

Her Pain is what you make it.

In one dream I'm a vampire and my lover is some kind of fairie creature, an earth elemental, something. We're trapped underground, in a sewer or old access tunnel, it's caved in. The walls are set stone or even metal, so I have no way to escape.

I am running out of oxygen.

But my lover's not. The surrounding earth will keep her alive, indefinitely, and in fact I think that she can leave when she chooses.

By drinking her blood I survive. We curl in the suffocating space. There is no oxygen left in the air, but I take enough from her blood to keep off death -- no, not death, an unending immobility far more terrifying.

But no way out.

The second game: Are your needs worth your lovers' happiness?

When an NPC meets you, she gets three stats:
-Attraction, at a level 1-6, depending on you and your actions.
-Anger, equal to zero.
-Self-loathing, equal to zero.
and you and she share a stat:
-Intimacy, equal to zero.

Whenever you and the NPC come together, roll dice equal to the NPC's Attraction, minus her Anger. On a success, the NPC comes on to you. If you respond, the two of you get +1 Intimacy.

When you drink an NPC's blood, it's satisfying proportional to your Intimacy with that NPC. You won't have to drink blood again for Intimacy2 nights. Being Hungry but not drinking blood is very very bad.

Whenever you and the NPC separate, roll dice equal to your Intimacy. On a success, the NPC has a sudden terrible realization about your relationship and what must be wrong with her that she's still in it and she gets +1 Self-loathing.

Every time you and the NPC are apart, roll dice equal to the NPC's Self-loathing. On a success, she does something awful: Roll dice equal to her Anger. On a success here she tries to do something awful to you, and on a failure she does something awful to herself.

So the Angrier she is at you, a. the more likely she is to keep her distance, b. the less likely she is to take it out on herself, and c. the worse it is for your own selfish survival.

Her Anger is what you make it.

In one dream they're hunting me, but they're stupid and weak. Individually I'd own them, but together they make me wary and I run. They follow me away through the snow, sometimes I stop and listen and under the roaring and crashing of the last falling leaves I hear their quiet footsteps.

I circle an old half-fallen barn, and I press my feet into the snow so that faint half-moons mark where my heels have been. Follow me, this way, this way, they say.

I have one of those silly games, a peg-and-holes game like you find in the doctor's waiting room. I arrange the pegs in a way I know and leave it there in one of my footprints.

One of those hunting me is weak in that way. I've set up the game so that there's no solution, only a loop at the end, and he'll sit down with it and jump the pegs over and over until the sun comes up. I laugh even now, him muttering his frustration, looking up startled into the killing sun.

The third game: How do we control our friends?

When you meet an NPC vampire, she gets these stats:
-Envy, at a level 3-6 or equal to zero.
-Fear, at a level 3-6 or equal to zero.
-Desire, at a level 3-6 or equal to zero.
-Loathing, at a level 3-6 or equal to zero.
Choose one at a level 3-6, which one and what level depending on you and your actions. Make the rest zero.

Whenever the two of you meet subsequently, one of her four stats goes up by 1, depending on you and your actions, to a maximum of 6. A different stat goes down by 1, if her stats already add up to 9, or if you or your actions are particularly striking.

Whenever you're apart, roll dice equal to the sum of her stats. On a success, she acts against you, in a way characterizing her highest stat:
-Envy: She seduces one of your lovers. (It doesn't change the mortal's stats toward you but it will certainly change her in other ways.)
-Fear: She arranges to show you her power and capacity for violence, but without attacking you or yours.
-Desire: She offers you something, one of her lovers, her own blood, a secret. She asks for something in return.
-Loathing: She attacks you or one of your lovers outright.

If by whatever circumstance you drink another vampire's blood, increase or decrease one of her stats by one, your choice, and make it a few nights more until you're Hungry.

You don't need to keep stats for your fellow PC vampires. You'll envy, fear, desire and loathe one another quite on your own. If a PC vampire drinks your blood, you're Hungry a few nights sooner and she's Hungry a few nights later.

In one dream I go to my lover's apartment. We've been lovers for a short while, a few days or weeks. We eat dinner and then I stand in the doorway of her bedroom, looking in. She lights candles and then smiles at me.

"You can come in," she says.

Four hours later, sobbing, broken, bloody, she manages to get a chef's knife from the kitchen and cut my throat. It's her blood that pours out.

What's a success on a roll?

If you roll at least one six or at least two fives, it's a success.

How bad is very very bad?

It takes the blood of ten strangers to stave off Hunger for one night.

Four hungry nights and you're weak as a kitten. Seven and you lapse into a coma, from which only blood will revive you, and no way to get your own.

What if two vampires fight?

If they're a PC and an NPC, they fight until one of the NPC's stats change, as the third game says. Same as if they flirt or argue or screw or talk baseball or politics.

If they're two PCs, they fight until one of them is done.

Who gets to say what?

The rule is: whatever you assert, it's true. The exceptions are: please don't assert anything about another player's character, and please don't assert something that contradicts another player's assertion.

It works like this.

I say, "I lift you off the ground by your throat and start pulling your ribs out of your chest, one by one."

You can't say, "I block your hand with my arm before you can." It's too late for that. You can say, "I twist out of your grip and fall back into the shadows. I'm gone." But you can't say, "I twist out of your grip and fall back into the shadows. You lose me." I get to decide if I lose you.

Or you can say, "My ribs? Feh. I laugh and spit in your face. Your lover's blood is in the spit."

I can't say, "I snarl and slam you down on the ground. I put my hand through the space I made in your ribcage and tear out your heart. You die." But I can say, "I snarl and slam you down on the ground. I put my hand through the space I made in your ribcage and tear out your heart." Whether you die is always up to you.

The name of the game is escalating brutality. The loser is the one who can't come up with something worse.

What I think about vampires.

I think that you have to die to become one. I think that you take power from the soil your corpse was buried in. Unburied, unmourned, is no vampire.

I think that you can become a bat, a rat, or a wolf, but that you can only change forms at dusk, midnight and dawn. I think that you can travel in moonlight, wherever moonlight falls, there you might be. I think that you can summon mists and keep them about you.

I think that you can endure the sun, walk around in the daytime, but that during the day you're powerless.

I think that you have inhuman strength, speed, and senses. I think you can hear a person's blood rushing and heart beating. I think you can judge liars by the race of their pulse and the smell of their sweat.

I think that garlic repels you because it represents sustenance without predation. I think that the stake through the heart kills because it represents honest and giving love. I think that the sun gives weakness because it represents reason, knowledge, and honesty. I think that the cross burns because it represents the power of community. Drinking blood gives undeath and power because it represents predation, rape, drugs, superstition, and transgression of social law.

That's how I run my game. I don't mind how you run yours.

She chases me, me and my lover, down off the subway platform into central park. I didn't ever see what she did to her own lover, or to the woman he'd been flirting with.

My lover and I slide and scramble down a rocky place, hand in hand, and when we hit the sloping grass at the bottom we run. We have a lead on her but no hope. There's a footbridge over a stream; we crouch in the lee of it to catch our breath, but we don't dare stay long enough. Running again is agony.

She's there.

I let my lover go and she ducks behind some rocks, draws her jacket up and I can almost hear her praying. To the vampire her pulse must sound like a passing train. I stay in the open too long, to draw her to me instead, and then fall on my belly in the tall reeds at the edge of the pond.

She comes down the hill as the shadow of a wolf. No wolf, just its shadow in the moonlight, flying over the grass, rippling and contouring like shadows do, over grass, tree roots, the paved path.

Terrifying bloodsucking death coming on me and all I can think is that the special effects crew in my head deserves a juicy raise.