In THE THRILL OF DRACULA, Kenneth Hite takes apart Dracula — the novel, the movies, the myth, even the history — into his component pieces: characters, tropes, symbols, story beats, effects. With those pieces, Ken shows you how to build new yet mythic stories about the King of the Vampires or about your own creatures of the night, tuned for thriller adventure, cosmic horror, or even intense personal drama. This standalone book suitable for all fans of games, storytelling, and Dracula will be delivered in PDF, Kindle, and ePub formats.
And now, in 31 DAYS OF DRACTOBER: Kenneth Hite takes you on a tour through the cinema de Dracula! Every day, he looks at one film version of the legendary story, from the classic NOSFERATU to the, um, less than immortal DRACULA 3000. Hit the Hammer highlights, the Lugosi limelights, and more — with advice on adapting any or all of them for your own vampire games. These “coming attractions” of THE THRILL OF DRACULA start playing on October 1st, on this very blog-theater!
Status: In development
Eight desperate missions against the Un-Dead!
From the mountains of Bulgaria to the streets of Berlin
From the Russo-Turkish war to the War on Terror
From 1877 to the present day
For the Dead Travel Fast
Operation Edom is the top-secret section of MI6 dedicated to thwarting and, ultimately, controlling the Un-Dead. Open the Edom archives and read the sealed files to learn the true shape of the 20th century.
- Stoker: First Blood (1877): In this prequel to Dracula, British adventurers exploring the Balkans thwart a vampiric horror.
- The Carmilla Sanction (1948): As the Soviets seal off Vienna, an Edom hit team hunt the notorious vampire Carmilla – but can they find her among all the decoys she’s created?
- Blood Coda (1971): A Romanian ballet company defects to the West, but there’s a vampire hidden among the dancers. Hunt her down before the curtain rises.
- Day of the Wehrwolf (1981): A prisoner exchange for a captured Edom officer leads the Agents into a race against time to stop the bombing of Radio Free Europe.
- The Slayer Elite (1980): A mysterious employer hires a team of elite mercenaries to carry out an operation in England. Their target: Edom.
- Four Days of the Bat (1989): Edom investigates an attack on one of their hidden stations, while outside the Berlin Wall falls and the Soviet Union collapses.
- The Moldavian Candidate (2005): A long-cold Edom case file is the key to thwarting a Conspiracy plan to assassinate the American vice president and escalate the war on terror.
- The Harker Intrusion (201-): An entry vector to the main Dracula Dossier campaign, giving one way for a team of Agents to acquire the stolen Dossier.
The Edom Files is part of the Dracula Dossier series. It stands alone as a compendium of one-shot adventures, but combine it with the Director’s Handbook to flash back into Edom’s history, or play through it all as a century-spanning epic!
Status: In development
This Halloween, a legendary horror walks again – do your customers have what it takes to face the Lord of the Undead himself?
LIMITED-EDITION RETAIL BUNDLE: Act now to get the full Dracula Dossier kit with a bonus card deck and limited edition print — details below!
What Is The Dracula Dossier?
Dracula is not a novel. It’s the censored version of Bram Stoker’s after-action report of the failed British Intelligence attempt to recruit a vampire in 1894. Kenneth Hite and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan have restored the deleted sections, inserting annotations and clues left by three generations of MI6 analysts. This is Dracula Unredacted.
Follow those clues to the Director’s Handbook, containing hundreds of encounters: shady NPCs, dangerous locations, conspiratorial nodes, and mysterious objects. Together they comprise The Dracula Dossier — an epic improvised, collaborative campaign for Night’s Black Agents, our award-winning vampire spy thriller RPG. The Dracula Dossier follows in the fully improvisational path of the award-winning Armitage Files campaign, and provides the Director with everything she needs to run a fully improvised, sandbox campaign.
The mission: Hunt and kill Dracula now, once and for all, before Britain falls to him forever.
Limited-Edition “First 50” Retail Bundle
The 50 retailers to pre-order the Dracula Dossier bundle get:
A 368-page, full colour hardback book, packed with everything GMs need to run an improvisational Night’s Black Agents roleplaying campaign to hunt and kill Dracula:
- Conspiracy nodes, fully mapped locations, and horrific foes.
- More than 60 supporting characters, with vampiric, heroic, or ambiguous versions.
- Alternate versions of Mina Harker, Abraham van Helsing, and the other characters in Stoker’s classic novel.
This new edition of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula adds new letters and recordings, diary entries long thought lost, and documents suppressed by Her Majesty’s Government—until now. Discover the true events behind the legend, from the first tentative contact between British intelligence and the undead, to the werewolf of Walpurgisnacht, to the cataclysmic disappearance of Dracula in volcanic fire, read the story you’ve known for years … for the first time.
The award-winning Night’s Black Agents roleplaying game brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, with a vampiric twist. Combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like The Bourne Identity and Mission: Impossible with supernatural horror, Night’s Black Agents is a thrilling game of investigation and high-octane action, with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases.
1 x Dracula Dossier Castle Dracula 8.5″ x 11″ print
Get this beautiful print of Jeff Brown’s Castle Dracula with your retailer bundle.
Exclusive to the First 50 retail bundle: 1 x Dracula Dossier card deck
Deal yourself into danger with the DRACULA DOSSIER Deck! These beautifully illustrated cards contain NPCs, Nodes, Locations, Objects, and Opponents. Pass them out as handouts, pin them to the Adversary Map, spread them like tarot cards, shuffle up random encounters, deal out a full Conspyramid, or draw for wandering foes — the DRACULA DOSSIER Deck adds still more improvisation to the game!
If you are signed up to the Bits and Mortar program, give your pre-order customers the PDFs now!
Retailers: pre-order through your distributor now!
Customers: tell your retailer to pre-order now!
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A Secret History Unearthed. A Legendary Horror Walks Again.
Presenting an epic improvised campaign for Night’s Black Agents Roleplaying Game. Do your Agents have what it takes to face the Lord of the Undead himself?
The Dracula Dossier follows in the fully improvisational path of the award-winning Armitage Files campaign. Players follow up leads in the margins of Dracula Unredacted, a rare edition of Bram Stoker’s masterpiece that reveals the terrifying truth behind the fiction. They’ll chase down the real characters from Stoker’s novel, their descendants in the present, and the British agents caught in the backblast.
Directors combine these leads and notes with pre-prepared elements in the Director’s Handbook, including:
- Conspiracy nodes, eerie locations and vampiric beasts
- More than 60 supporting characters in vampiric, heroic, or in-between versions
- Different versions of the real Mina Harker, Abraham van Helsing, and the other stars of Stoker’s novel — and their modern-day successors, descendants, and survivors — who can drive the story in any direction the players look.
Players choose which leads to track, which scarlet trail to follow. The Director, using the clear step-by-step techniques in this book, improvises a suitably blood-soaked thriller in response to their choices. Clear advice to players and Directors on improvisation, with extensive examples and guidelines, helps you set the scene. Together, you will read and write your own unique version of the Dracula Dossier.
Follow the clues to end the story once and for all, and close Project EDOM forever. You will find, hunt, and kill Dracula, the king of the vampires.
If you survive.
|Authors: Kenneth Hite, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
||Stock #: PELGN05
|Artists: Stefano Azzalin, Francesca Baerald, Gennifer Bone, Jeff Brown, Tyler Clark, Dennis Detwiller, Nyra Drakae, Dean Engelhardt, Melissa Gay, Brittany Heiner, Jérôme Huguenin, Chris Huth, Christian Knutsson, Anna Kryczkowska, Erica Leveque, David Lewis Johnson, Pat Loboyko, Rich Longmore, Amanda Makepeace, Juha Makkonen, Angelus Nex (Tina X Filic), Olivia Ongai, Margaret Organ-Kean, Nathan Paoletta, Jen Estirdalin Pattison, Brittany Pezzillo, Jeff Porter, Danielle Sands, Biddy Seiveno, Patricia Smith, Ernanda Souza, Marc Steinmann, Ashley Vanchu, Alicia Vogel, Britney Winthrope
||Contributors: Heather Albano, Paul Baldowski, Kennon Bauman, Walt Ciechenowski, Justin Farquhar, Elsa S. Henry, Carol Johnson, Marissa Kelly, Shoshana Kessock, Shawn Merwin, James Palmer, Nathan Paoletta, Will Plant, Wes Schneider, Christopher Sniezak, Phil Vecchione
|Cartographers: Olivia Catroppa, Chris Huth, Will Jobst, Gill Pearce, Joachim de Ravenbel, Simon Rogers, Ralf Schemmann
||Format: 368 page, full colour hardback
The macro level of a Dracula Dossier campaign emerges from the Conspyramid and Vampyramid charts, as well as the instructions in the opening section, How To Use This Book. Those charts are the framework for your story – as in any Night’s Black Agents game, the aim is to shoot your way up that Conspyramid, level by level, while dodging the antagonist reactions dictated by the matching level on the Vampyramid. Each conspiracy node points to another, and another, until everything closes in on Dracula. So, the players identify a Conspiracy node, or NPC, or location. That gets slotted into the Director’s Conspyramid on an empty slot at an appropriate Level (either the lowest available slot, or one connected to the previous node that gave the clue pointing to this one). They investigate that node, beat it up until another clue falls out, and follow that clue to the next node. Drop in an available Vampyramid response whenever the Conspiracy gets annoyed, and repeat until Dracula drops dead. Again.
Individual scenes require a little more improvisation. The first step – once the players have decided what clue they’re following up on, either from Dracula Unredacted or a previous scene – is to flip to the appropriate writeup in the Director’s Handbook and decide which variant to use. Is this NPC an Innocent, a spy agency Asset, or a Minion of Dracula? Is this location Hot or Cold?
As a rule of thumb, go for more innocents and red herrings early in the campaign, go for more Assets in England or when they’re closing in on Edom, and go for more Minions in the latter stages of the campaign or when in Romania. You could even mechanise if you were so inclined.
+1 if the PCs are following a strong lead
+1 if it’s the middle of the campaign/+2 if its the endgame
Each writeup lists one or more abilities that gets a clue, and that clue points to another NPC/Node/Object/Location. Use that structure as the spine, around which you improvise a scene.
For example, if the PCs are investigating the MI5 Deputy (DH p. 95). The Director decides that the Deputy is still an active Edom Asset; the listed abilities there are Diagnosis and Tradecraft (as well as Notice and Research, but those are for going the other way, pointing the players towards appropriate entries in Dracula Unredacted). Diagnosis sounds fun – maybe the Agents have to sneak into a hospital and question the Deputy while he’s undergoing an MRI scan. A fight scene around a giant magnet could be interesting if, say, a Conspiracy minion shows up…
If inspiration hasn’t struck, consider the following prompts for complications or intrigue:
For Innocent NPCs
- How do the Agents approach the NPC? (How would you react to half-a-dozen suspicious criminal types showing up on your doorstep?)
- Do the Agents meet the NPC at home, or work, or some other location? What’s the place like?
- What are the Agents interrupting when they arrive?
- Does the NPC have a reason to hide what he or she knows? Does the NPC know the value of the information?
- When did the NPC last talk about this topic? With whom?
- Do the players actually need to talk to the NPC, or is this a heist more than an interrogation?
- Have the NPC treat the PCs as heavily armed genies – what would you do if a bunch of heavily armed criminals offered you a favour in exchange for information?
- Who else is nearby? Who’s watching? What about animals?
- Does this scene need to be complicated? Is it better to just give the players the clue and zoom onto a more exciting encounter?
- Why hasn’t the NPC acted on the information? Why are they still innocent?
- How can I get this NPC into a fight with the Agents? A chase?
- What motifs or images can I work into this scene? Blood? Death, disease and decay? Immortality or unnatural youth? The burden of history? Terrorism and the surveillance state? Volcanoes and the secrets of the earth? Sunset or sunrise? Dreams? Diaries and letters? Brides? Bats?
- Is Dracula nearby?
For Asset NPCs
As above, plus…
- What’s the NPCs’ escape route from this situation?
- Public places make for safer meeting places. Pick an Establishing Shot location (p. 254) and have the PCs meet the NPC there. Look at that writeup for ideas.
- What usual item or precaution has the NPC got hidden around his or her home?
- Was the Asset briefed on how to deal with people asking about the Dracula Dossier? If so, what’s their standard operating procedure? Stall? Point the PCs to a trap? Turn the tables on them, and pump them for information? Lie and sell the PCs on a false story?
- What does the intelligence agency want from the PCs, if anything? Does the Asset NPC share that desire?
- Is the Asset recording the conversation? Is the location bugged?
- Who wants the Asset dead?
- How often is the NPC in contact with his or her intelligence agency? How do they communicate?
- How long will it take the Asset to report this contact with the player characters?
- What would it take to flip the Asset? Does the Asset want to be bought out?
For Minion NPCs
As above, plus…
- Is this Minion aware of the true nature of the Conspiracy, or do they think they’re working for something more mundanely malignant? Or is the NPC a lone madman, caught up in the psychic turbulence of the Count?
- Is the Minion planning on luring the PCs into a trap, in which case he or she meets them somewhere private or dangerous, or trying to deflect them away, in which case a public meeting place is more appropriate?
- Is this an action scene, where the PCs are threatened? Or is the goal to disturb or confuse them? (Am I planning on eating bugs, or eating them?)
- How will the NPC use the Agents to advance the Conspiracy’s goals, or curry favour with the Conspiracy?
- What’s the worst thing the NPC has done for Dracula?
- What omen or weirdness telegraphs the NPC’s corruption? Is the corruption physical or spiritual?
One final point – in any improvised campaign, especially a stupendously huge and complex one like the Dracula Dossier, it’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes. You’ll let the wrong information slip, or you’ll forget some telling detail. (It’s especially likely that you’ll contradict the Annotations at some point, as the players can cross-check those at their leisure after the game session). If you do make a mistake, you’ve got a get-out-of-jail free card you can use to solve almost any error: mind control.
The error that the players picked up on wasn’t a screw-up – it was a subtle clue to Dracula’s involvement, so you can congratulate them on picking up on it. Of course, now that they’ve seen through Dracula’s attempts to cover his tracks, you’re obliged to hit them with another antagonist reaction from the Vampyramid…
by James Palmer
Dracula the Warlord – In life, Vlad Tepes was a man who would go to any end to win. In death, he’s worse. Being a vampire is only one part of his toolkit, and while he uses it, he’ll never become dependent on it. You pull a cross? He pulls a gun. You don’t invite him in? He blows your house up from outside. He loses his powers in day, when he is merely a centuries-old warlord who has mastered every weapon known to man, controls a small country, has his tendrils across Europe, and has a coterie of loyal-unto-death bodyguards around him.
Try making this explicit in game terms by giving him a Preparedness ability, like the Agents, ranked at 14-20 or so, and openly spending and rolling for it. That way Dracula always having a back-up plan or the right counter doesn’t feel so much like Director fiat, and Agents can plot multiple approaches, eventualities, and bluffs to try to outthink the master (by exhausting his pool.)
Showman – He’s watched every depiction of himself – his lair has a library of movies, TV, video games – and they’ve soaked into him. Sometimes he’s Bela Lugosi, sometimes he’s Gary Oldman, sometimes he’s Christopher Lee; you can never be sure what his real face is, or if he even has one anymore. Maybe he was Vlad Tepes in life, maybe he just liked his style, maybe he can’t remember anyway. He loves the grand speeches about his ancestry, regardless of whether they’re true or not.
He’s a giant ham, but he’s a ham like the Joker’s a ham. Everything amuses him, whether it’s making his minions shave their hair like a bat or laying out the corpses of an Agent’s family in an obscene tableau animated by necromancy. Life and death are jokes, and the punchline is always “The Aristocrats!”
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get the average group of players riled up, it’s an NPC who laughs at them. Whether it’s in pre-recorded videos, dream visions, or scrawled messages in blood, the Showman will taunt and tease the Agents across Europe. He favors keeping his favorite foes alive, because after all, he needs a truly appreciative audience, but he’ll strip everything away from them so that in the end, it’s just him and them on a bare stage.
[mirror] The Showman is highly likely to follow the real life Vlad Tepes’ habit of disguising himself to travel among his enemies. He may disguise himself as a friendly NPC (especially if he’s indistinguishable from human during the day) to accompany the group, be their secret patron, or even kidnap and take the shape of an Agent (if you have a compliant player) for a session or two.
Stalker – He’s driven by love, you see. That’s what the world just doesn’t understand. When he crawled back from the dead, it was for love. When he killed that family, it was for love. When he terrorizes and coerces and forces a woman into letting him turn her, it’s for love. Until he realizes that they’re not the One, and they become a hungry Bride trapped behind his walls …
This is the Dracula who turns and abandons Lucy, then fixates on Mina. He probably doesn’t have a grand plot; EDOM is using him, not the other way round – his unlife is one long routine of repeating the same pattern.
The Stalker is a grim parody of the “romantic vampire” that’s become so popular, the centuries-old creature of the night who fixates on teenage girls. Maybe he’s looking for the “reincarnated spirit” of the wife he “lost” – because he killed her. Maybe he just has a type. Maybe he sparkles in sunlight, an otherworldly, terrible glare that rips the sanity or souls out of onlookers. Whichever it is, finding a suitable victim makes for great bait in the Agents’ trap – if they’re willing to risk an innocent.
The Executive Megalomaniac – Dracula wanted to go to England because it exemplified the modernity of 1897; the sweeping, new power that was carrying the world on its back. Now he doesn’t care about England. He wants to go to Silicon Valley. Or Guangzhou. A fading mid-ranked power – that’s just a stepping stone, through control of the City. Dracula wants to rule the world.
The Executive wears tailored suits, long ago shaved that mustache, and prefers mesmerism and persuasion to extreme violence, though that’s always an option in a pinch. He loves technology, though he’s more an end user than a hacker (he has people for that) – trace him by running through the Apple Watch pre-order list for Bucharest. He’s absurdly mega-rich, on the scale that only several lifetimes of Swiss bank accounts and the kind of insider trading you can do by reading people’s dreams can manage.
For the Executive, try swapping his Vampyramid reactions with that of EDOMs. Dracula becomes the one reaching out to and trying to coopt the Agents – after all, why waste talented assets? – while EDOM is the paranoid, ruthless organization striking back (with its suborned vampiric minions) at any possible threat.
The Director’s Handbook, together with Dracula Unredacted, comprises The Dracula Dossier — an epic improvised, collaborative campaign for Night’s Black Agents, our award-winning vampire spy thriller RPG. Pre-order it in our webstore now.
The original 1894 Operation Edom brief, key memos, secret military maps of Transylvania, précis of reports from Balkan battlefronts and German academies alike, and plans for the next century’s battle for control of the Un-Dead — these are the Hawkins Papers.
The handouts that make up the Hawkins Papers are as improvisational as the rest of the Dracula Dossier campaign. Drop them into your game as needed, and let the players decide how to interpret them and what conclusions to draw. Maps, reports, private correspondence, newspaper columns, business cards, and period photographs add historic flavour, and modern-day realism, to your Dracula Dossier campaign.
The Hawkins Papers also includes The Hawkins Annex – for the Director’s eyes only, this invaluable reference lists a description of each of the more than 30 handouts. It suggests likely places for the Agents to find the handout, as well as a Director-friendly breakdown of what clues are available in the handout, pointers to entries in the Director’s Handbook, and other people or groups that could be associated with the document.
Status: In Development
Karloff reviewed the backer-PDF copy of the Dracula Dossier. You can find the full review here. Thanks, Karloff!
“This improvisational Night’s Black Agents campaign setting, complete with the unredacted print copy of Stoker’s first edition Dracula and a massive Director’s Handbook, is beyond huge. It’s one thing to write up Stoker’s Dracula with little ‘Dracula’s a great big meanie’ notes in the margins; after all, Stoker’s done the heavy lifting there. It’s something else altogether to take that text, all those marginal notes, and a hundred other things besides, turning it all into a 364-page document complete with supporting characters, locations, rival agencies, and Dracula’s many possible conspyramids and plots. I’ll give you my conclusion right up front: if you have any interest in the Night’s Black Agents setting whatsoever, this is a must-buy.”
“Meanwhile, let me offer my personal thanks, not to the authors – though they deserve every plaudit – but to my fellow Kickstarter backers. Thanks to your funding, something wonderful has been created.”
Karloff goes on,
“If you’re any kind of student of Stoker, you’ll find layer upon layer of meaning here, and each layer translates to yet another node, or character, location, item, plot thread. Imagine trying to put all that together, yourself. Then be grateful someone else did it for you.”
“Should you go to Carfax, for example, there are several different ways the Director could play it, many different items or supporting characters you might find there, and many different consequences. What this means in play is that the characters can never be sure what they’re going to discover, nor can they take anything for granted. It also means that the Director can play this several times, maybe with the same group, and it will never play out the same way twice.”
“I’d recommend a new Director buy this even if that Director never plays it as written. It’s a masterclass in how the game is constructed, and how it can be played.”
Ten years after the ghost flu hit, the world is changed — but the secret world stays the same. Enemies of your country still plot, terrorists still scheme — but now they might have superpowers. An espionage-specops frame for Mutant City Blues takes the super fights into the shadows.
Mutant City Spies is the fourth installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in July. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Mutant City Spies is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).
|Stock #: PELH31D
||Author: Kenneth Hite
|Artist: Marc Steinmann, Jérôme Huguenin
|Pages: 14pg PDF