By Friya (Friyanouce), November 2016

Well, I wanted to create something that was not just tweaking (which I have gotten a bit fed up with) of the standard Wurm mechanics, so I am working on a project that is bringing a new element of game-play to Wurm. I decided to go with Vampires, but it could have been Trumps, Clintons, Werewolves, Zombies or whatever...

So, without further ado...

Vampires of Wurm
The route to become a Vampire goes via half-vampire and a mini-quest.

Once there, no one will know that you are a vampire (not even your brethren) unless you make suboptimal decisions. As long as people have doubts as to whether you are a Vampire or not, you can get the perks without the drawbacks.

So, the perks...

Vampires have a few abilities:
· Bloodlust, this is the hunger for a Vampire, it forces you to feed on a regular basis. You feed by devouring (draw blood) from corpses or slayers. High blood lust have perks in that you will get healed more, hit harder. Too high blood lust can kill you as the beast within will start feeding on the vampire and has a chance to eventually kill it.
· Smash, a near-instant powerful damage spell. Hits harder with higher bloodlust. Costs stamina. Can be used while in stealth, but will break stealth afterwards.
· Devour, feed off of a fresh corpse. Feeding will decrease bloodlust, decrease hunger, increase nutrition and partially heal wounds (think Fo's Life Transfer). Devouring will leave a bloodless husk instead of a corpse behind.
· Aid, a vampire can send (using bats) a "small rat" to a remote player. A rat is passive and will never hit back, but it can be devoured like a normal corpse and thus heal and settle the vampires bloodlust. The rats are portable and purchased from a vendor/breeder.
· Sense, determine what the offspring of a pregnant animal will look/be like.
· Sprint, lets the vampire run at an increased speed for a little while
· Bite, used to punish a hunted vampire slayer or someone that is currently wielding a stake of vampire banishment. Can be used while in stealth.
· Strike, attempt to disarm someone wielding a stake of vampire banishment. Can be used while in stealth.
· Slayers, /slayers (console command), will give an overview of who are currently being hunted.
· Cripple, cripple a vampire slayer or her mount/vehicle and make it pretty slow for a little while. This is a ranged cast.
· Significantly higher skill gain in meditation (must be the coffins they sleep in)

In addition to these abilities there are a number of other differences, such as the fact that vampires cannot eat food. They have a *lot* faster movement in stealth during day time and even faster by night. Some abilities can be used while in stealth and will not reveal your name. There are more differences but leaving them unsaid as an exercise to the Vampire.

Of course, with perks comes downsides, which brings us to...

Vampire Slayers (aka stakers)
Staker, name comes from the tool they use; a stake. I use both slayer and staker here, they are interchangable. So, Vampires are technically evil, which would make the vampire slayer the Good Guy (social interaction on the server will probably make vampires far more likeable, though). A vampire slayer does not have any abilities that sets them apart from the normal folks, but several new abilities are added for everyone.

The abilities *everyone* gets:
· Trace, use on Bloodless Husks to examine the trail of blood left by the sloppy vampire. It will give an approximate age of the husk and direction the Vampire went. You cannot use it on too old husks.
· Hunted, /hunted (console command), will give you your current hunted status.
· Dispel shadows, a spell given to all priests. It will attempt to bring every secretive being into plain sight, it will dispel stealth in a rather large radius around caster.
· Locate soul, heavily modified. It will also depend on a skill in that you will get far more information than what is currently in Wurm.
· Other items with ways of locating slayers and vampires (depending on skill).

In addition, there will be a Black Velvet Pouch available for purchase from a wandering NPC called Vampire Hunter "D". This pouch contains:
· a mirror, used to determine whether someone is a vampire. This action is a timed cast, but it only gives a message to your surroundings -after- the cast is done. It will incur some kind of cost to prevent it from being used; i.e. use if you suspect...
· a magical stake of vampire banishment, drive it through the heart of the vampire to banish it.
· a mallet, got to hammer that stake in with something.
· a sheet with instructions; explains the ins and outs of hunting vampires.

This velvet pouch is the kit that is used to stake (soft-kill) vampires to steal some skill-points and/or affinities. Some or all of these items could become craftables, I am undecided still.

More items are introduced, such as amulet to protect against staking, items to make a stake undodgable, etc...

The hunt
When successfully driving a stake through the heart of a vampire, it will be banished to "the Coven" (somewhere on the map), "giving" some of its skill points and/or affinities to the staker.

An announcement will go out to all vampires telling them e.g. Friyanouce revealed themselves as a vampire slayer, let the hunt begin. A timed hunt will now start for the slayer, during which *every* vampire can bite the slayer. Vampires will thus be given the opportunity take back all or parts of the slayers' gains and maybe affinities. Since vampires can punish slayers over and over again, the reward for one bite is a lot less than a successful staking. However, there is no cap on how many times a slayer can be bitten. There is a cooldown for each vampire, though.

The countdown of the hunted timer will only tick when the slayer is off-deed, on surface and outside of enclosures or donuts. That is, the slayer must be theoretically reachable by other players.

Stakers will have limited options for teleporting while hunted.

When the hunt is over and the slayer washed their hands clean of the vampire blood, (you need source for this) they can no longer be punished for what they did. But I'm not sure how much vampires will trust the slayer from this point onwards. Social dilemma.

If a potential slayer is running around with a wielded stake of vampire banishment they are a valid target to the vampire, as if they were hunted. An important note here is that once you have wielded a stake of vampire banishment, you cannot *unwield* it (this is to enforce commitment). The only way to unwield it is by staking a vampire, dying, destroying it (e.g. by shattering), or tossing it in a garbage heap. As for wielding a stake, it will take a little while and will also give event message to the surroundings (side-note: this was a about ten times more painful to implement than I anticipated).

All that said, being a slayer is not something you *have* to commit to full-time (unlike being a vampire). Slayers are probably mostly opportunistic. Say, I'm not sure if I'd go to public unique slayings if I was a vampire. Then again, there are probably more vampires there to punish the slayer should he dare.

A bunch of skills are introduced and all of the actions you can perform depend on new or existing skills. Not to disclose too much here but the agility and locate skills are important to both stakers and vampires.

All statistics are tracked, losses, gains, number of bites, stakes, etc. This will also give us a way of ranking how good individuals are at being a slayer, vampire and other aspects.

Titles will be made available to vampire slayers. Vampires do not get any titles, they are encouraged to remain anonymous (of course).

The bottom line
At the end of the day, it's about skill, betrayal, hide and seek, stealth and paranoia. But most importantly, it fits in pretty well in Wurm due to it just sitting there in the background until one of the vampires gets a stake through their heart. At which point the hunt begins and there are profits to be made... or lost.

The two roles (vampires/stakers) have advantages at different stages of the "conflict", sometimes you really should flee instead of going for a target. That said, as an option to fleeing: working together in small groups could be benefical.

I picture vampires being plentiful due to the perks and (perhaps) rather small risk they run at being punished; it is very much up to the vampire to play it safe. It will most definitely take some learning and skill to properly evaluate situations. The aim is to balance it so that being a vampire is attractive. That said, even the most hardened vampire will eventually be careless and get caught. Caution will likely spread among the other vampires that are online since they now know that there is at least one active vampire slayer around.

Vampires will have a chat channel, but you can't trust your own brethren of course, so names are aliased (automatically generated). This means there can be a level of cooperation between vampires; hunting, general sharing of intelligence such as slayer's hiding places, etc. Naturally, some will probably get close and share their real avatar name. But that's their call, the tools to hide are there.

As a vampire you can get rid of the "beast" within (de-vamp), but it should be somewhat costly (TBD) and require some difficult-to-craft brew. This will also give some uncertainty to slayers.

Hunting vampires can (and is meant to be) a somewhat tough job. First you have to hunt someone down to identify them as vampire and if you don't manage to land a stake in their heart at this point, you have to hunt them down again. There will probably be some intelligence sharing between slayers, but there will be trust issues. Staking a normal human will burn the slayer and kill her.

Slayers will not have a chat channel or anything out of the ordinary; they are just normal folks ridding the world of these foul beasts. If slayers want to cooperate, get organized, or share infrastructure, they have to set something up themselves.

It's Wurm after all.

Phew. I, eh, intended this to be brief introduction, but it turned out that for every sentence written, five questions went unanswered. A lot of detail is still left out.

A few technical details
· It is a mod that is loaded via mod-loader and thus portable.

· To have it on a server you just create a focus zone called "the Coven", then place the needed NPC's at locations of our choice.

· Due to modifications to stealth, locate soul and a lot of other things, this will be hard to keep balanced on a PvP server. The intention with this was always bringing opt-in player vs player to PvE. But then, it would probably introduce some very interesting dynamics on a traditional PvP server (and ruin others). One shared coven for all kingdoms? Yeah. I predict chaos and backstabbing of your own.

· Vampire status is never transferred to other clients; which means it's not possible to create any mods that flag vampire status.

· I think the concept will depend on a semi-large active community so that vampires can be somewhat anonymous. But this remains to be seen.

· I am entertaining the idea of a client-side mod that makes bloodlust a full featured "bar" together with stamina, etc. This would also give us the opportunity to inject some graphical details (models, icons, particle effects...). I am still undecided. It would with 100% certainty not be a must-have for anyone, though. For now bloodlust works just like favor in that it can be thrown up on a one of Wurm's built-in skill trackers.

· On our server we have disabled farwalker twigs and stones for other reasons than this setting, having them easily available will change the outcome of a lot of the situations I have considered (most likely for the worse).

· While our server is not a roleplaying server, everything around vampires should be RP friendly. Thoughts went into making everything in-theme. No event-messages will ever take anyone out of character.

· Quite a bit of work went into skill point transfer (when biting/staking) and general game balance around it. The exchanged "currency" between slayers and vampires is not "1 point in a skill", but rather the gains of X normalized e.g. blacksmithing actions. The amount of skill this translates to will vary depending on the server's skill gain multiplier. But as an example, the staker might gain 45 points in blacksmithing while the vampire lost 1 high point. Of course, there is a level of randomness and priorities in which skill will be affected (some skills are excluded) and there are some caps and softeners on top of it (to encourage going after high-skilled characters).

The gains and losses when being punished (for both vampires and slayers) is significant. Also, remember: the primary reason for slayers to exist is to balance Vampires (and vampires are also really foul beasts, of course). ;-)

· I don't currently have a deadline set for when I will call this done, real life is awesome too. I'm far into the development (and by god, painful it is!), a lot of the tricky bits are coded and I think the concept is generally figured out. After testing, debugging, feedback, there will hopefully be enough interest to release it into the public domain.

My *hope* is to put it into testing on a live server for the christmas holidays. But yeah, it'll be done when it's ready.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I wanted to share it to maybe get feedback and generally hear your thoughts on the idea, balance, concept... maybe even inspire!

But foremost, I'd love to hear your thoughts!