Vampire Rules V: Midnight’s WarThe Dark Herald
Countess Elizabeth Bathory; the infamous Blood Countess.
Her story is that of a beautiful woman utterly obsessed with maintaining her beauty, no matter what crimes she committed in the process. Yes, she was even worse than Madonna. She tried just about every beauty aid available when her looks began to fade. Arsenic powders and tinctures laced liberally with gold and mercury were tried and of course, failed.
One night, in her frustration, she struck a serving girl hard enough to draw blood. Having tried everything else she rubbed the girl’s blood on her cheek and to her eyes, the years seemed to melt off of her. Her two most trusted servants dragged the poor, terrified girl to Countess Bathory’s bath and slashed open her throat allowing the countess to wash herself in blood. Elizabeth was convinced she’d found the key to eternal youth.
That night began a twenty-year streak of serial murder. Peasant girls would be bought from their families and given guarantees of an easy life as a servant in the great house of the countess. At the very least all of the girl’s troubles would be over. There were accounts that the Countess built a variant of the iron maiden so the girl’s virgin blood would shower over her.
Eventually, the evidence of the ravages of time on her once immaculate beauty was too strong to maintain her own delusions.
She doubled down. It was the quality of the blood that was the problem, she decided. Peasant girls weren’t good enough; she would need the blood of noble virgins.
Once a few girls from important families disappeared, the rest of the nobles took an interest in her hobby and she was arrested. Her servants were executed, and she was imprisoned for the rest of her life in her own castle.
And the entire story is bullshit. Well, there was a Countess Elizabeth Bathory and she was convicted of these crimes. But if you look at the testimony, you’ll find that ALL of it was second or third-hand. The only firsthand testimony was from the servants who were executed, and those confessions were all tortured out of them. Also, they recanted.
Besides which she was imprisoned for life when she should have been executed for witchcraft. It was all a hoax to break the importance of her family.
Ugly business but that was how things were done in the 1500s. It was how politics were conducted. It’s a good thing we no longer live in a world that is governed like that.
Vox Day has posed the intriguing question of “what if we did?”
What if we had a political reality like the chaos of an Italian Renaissance government but with modern military equipment?
Something to keep in mind about Vox Day is that he is one of the very few people out there who is detail-oriented enough to create a coherent and extensive fictional world that would make Tolkien nod approvingly. I say this because he’s done it on several occasions. He has admitted that his idea of a good time is reading a 5,000-page rule book and from what I can tell if given the choice he probably would prefer to play the second of these two games:
Consequently, I was curious to see what rules for vampirism he would invent when Midnight’s War first launched.
In this case, it’s not the rules for vampirism that make these children of the night intriguing but the consistent and comprehensive world they inhabit.
You would need a few things to make a modern Renaissance Era feudal system happen. First and foremost an exceptionally long-lived aristocracy. Men and women who started doing business like that when they were growing up in the 1300s. They are unlikely to change those habits especially as they were living an underground existence for most of those centuries.
This is a world that is now governed by the Concordat. The vampires who had been running things secretly behind the scenes finally came out into the open and dictated humanity’s terms of surrender. The governing class of the world disposed of the old theories of economics and created a new international hard currency that would always be liquid (sorry), and based on blood. Every human on Earth was now required to pay four pints a year in taxes.
Food as currency is not without precedent in history, although the disadvantage of blood is obvious. It goes bad fast, even refrigerated it will have to be either consumed or disposed of within 42 days. However, it is mass-produced by unskilled labor, so the overall level of supply probably doesn’t change too much provided production levels remain constant. However, even a minor interruption will cause price spikes.
And consumption will remain static. If the supply of standard reserves goes down your average fang in the street is likely to start poaching. But if blood is the most valuable thing around then vanilla humans are likely to indulge in their own form of vampirism.
Vampires are ultimately going to be dependent on human underlings to maintain ownership over their planetary herd. This raises the question of, how effective are these humans going to be as troops?
Now that, I’ve seen in this world, and the answer is not very. Any American trainers that work in Arab nations develop a rule of thumb pretty quickly. An Arab Colonel has the same decision-making authority as an American First Sergeant. Fundamentally the vampires are going to have a system with a predisposition towards initiative not being rewarded.
A subordinate who gets ideas is a subordinate who gets ideas.
Consequently, human servitors are going to be trying to gain reputations for reliability and perfect obedience. The downside for the vampires is that their daytime troops will be useless for anything time sensitive during the daylight hours. Figuring out who to blame will be about the extent of their decision-making.
This creates another problem for the vampires, how big do they make their own population? Again, there is that whole mass-produced by unskilled labor thing, so they need their ruling class big enough to maintain control. The Rite of Cain appears to be a deliberate choice rather than a random accident, so they at least get to decide who gets “upped.” But how do they decide? Who do they pick to be a vampire?
A human with a record for being trustworthy of course. Which takes us right back to the problem of crippled initiative. Except now it extends to nighttime hours and it affects the ruling class. Add to that the fundamental problem of a being with a centuries-long lifespan almost certainly being given to absolute cognitive rigidity.
Finally, you have the problem of feudal societies being very low trust polities.
How vulnerable is this vampire civilization going to be to an enemy that is capable of high trust and high initiative?
In Afghanistan as huge and high-tech as the United States military presence was, with absolute control of the air, at the end of the day we lost to an opposition of around forty-five thousand active belligerents, with a hardcore element of about one hundred fifty fanatics.
That was all it took for us to lose a war.
Consider an enemy that views its own troops as cattle and is always divided against itself. How big does the core element have to be to bring that world down?