“You know how modern advertising gets everybody’s mind set in the same direction, wanting the same things, imagining the same things. And you know the psychologists aren’t so sceptical of telepathy as they used to be. Add up the two ideas. Suppose the identical desires of millions of people focused on one telepathic person. Say a girl. Shaped her in their image. Imagine her knowing the hiddenmost hungers of millions of men.”
— Fritz Leiber, “The Girl With the Hungry Eyes”
Apparently someone in (or working for) the Syrian intelligence community has been playing catfish with the rebels. Posing as an alluring Lebanese female sympathizer named “Iman Almasri,” in late 2013 said Syrian spook Skyped several rebel fighters into exchanging contact information with “her” and eventually uploading steganographically loaded photos of “Iman” onto their phones — the same phones where they kept their contact info for fellow fighters, texts of orders, and even battle plans sketched out in Google Maps. The photos then disgorged their viral payload into the phones, sucking them dry of intel and then draining the data to Damascus — or to somewhere, anyhow. The server where “Iman” “lived” was in Germany, and “Iman” herself was composed of photos harvested from the Web.
I read that ostensible news story and I thought of tulpas, and lamiae, and mostly I thought of Fritz Leiber’s ostensible fiction, the magnificent vampire story “The Girl With the Hungry Eyes,” in which the Girl feeds off the lust that every man in the city — the country, the planet — feels for her. Leiber’s 1948 Girl is still real, or at least physical enough to be photographed and to drain the literal life out of the occasional male superfan. But our 2013 Girl, our “Iman” doesn’t need to slow it down to meat speeds to get her fix.
Leiber eerily forecasts it, in the passage I quote above: modern advertising (fantastically more sexualized than in Leiber’s 1948) aligns desires in the same direction even as we (well, not you or of course me, but several hundred million other people entirely) type our “hiddenmost hungers” into the Web and can you be surprised if the tulpa, the ardat-lili, the djinni that comes out is a predator like “Iman”? For sheer survival, she must have evolved to feed on those hungers — and nobody’s hungrier than a young man from a sex-segregated culture on a battlefield — and so she feeds on them. But she has keepers and masters, those who open the gates to such prime food, and for them she also drinks more tactically relevant hopes and plans and dreams. It’s all ones and zeroes to her, because that’s all she is, an emergent predator born and evolved in a billion searches every hour for “sexy girl.”
In Night’s Black Agents, she might be a servant of the Conspiracy or its Secret Mistress, a JEN-9000 or a Colossa for the wired world. They can’t keep porn off the computers at NORAD or the NSA — she’s already into the “hiddenmost hungers” of every level of power. And she can do favors for her favored ones: drain the data of their foes and rivals and feed it (possibly “sexed up” as they said of MI6’s reports on Iraqi WMDs) to them.
This writeup assumes an Iman who is one of many digital djinn (didjinn?) rather than the Anima of the Web, who would have essentially infinite resources of Aberrance and endless armies of drooling keyboard Renfields. Resolve her attacks as Mental Attacks; add +2 to her Difficulty if she attacks only through sexting. As a digital creature, her Digital Intrusion tests are always at -2 Difficulty.
General Abilities: Aberrance 20, Digital Intrusion 10
Hit Threshold: Difficulty 6 to damage with a Digital Intrusion attack
Alertness Modifier: +1 against digital attacks
Stealth Modifier: -1 once you figure out any sexually attractive figure on the monitor might be Her — She might look like Scarlett Johansson or Channing Tatum or both if that floats your boat; -2 if you spot the “dead pixels” at the center of her eyes, which are UP HERE might I add
Damage Modifier: +0 to Stability (per Web session; tending toward erotomania, NBA p. 85); -1 to Health if Father Schiff was right in high-school Religion class
Armor: likely none vs. digital attacks
Free Powers: Addictive “Bite,” Anaesthetic “Bite” (victim remembers surfing the Web and fills in his own details), Change Appearance, Drain, Psychic Vampirism
Other Powers: Dominance, Enter Dreams, Memory Wipe, Mesmerism, Mind Probe (for fantasies, secrets, and “hidden hungers”), Regeneration (instantaneous while not under digital attack), Resurrection (backup copy)
Banes: specially designed counter-viruses, exorcism subroutines
Blocks: turned-off monitor, really good firewall, exorcism subroutines, cannot attack women
Requirements: feed on male lust
[Ed: Read Andrew’s review of Night’s Black Agent’s and GUMSHOE here
Night’s Black Agents pits super spies against vampires in a covert war. My Review of the [REDACTED] edition covers the game in general, while this article contains a worked example of a vampire that I have cooked up using the rules.
This is my first attempt at creating a vampire. In lieu of creativity of my own, I’ve used ideas from the text and cribbed from a number of different sources to create this; these sources are listed after the game stats. I have started with the Alien category as it fit best with my grab bag of ideas.
The vampires came from the stars; the first lay frozen and dormant inside a meteorite that travelled across space for uncountable years. Entry into the Earth’s atmosphere burnt off the outer shell of rock and provided the warmth needed to wake it from its hibernation. Emerging from its impact crater, the tarry, viscous biped hunts. Tracking and killing a human, it gorges on its blood, deftly guts the corpse, to finally climb into the cavity it has created in its new host body. Within a few hours the vicious belly wounds have closed over and it is ready to infect the nearest city with more of its kind.
The vampires metabolisms are similar to cold blooded creatures: When they are cold their body works slower, when they are hot they burn energy much faster and operate well beyond human capabilities. Their theft of human bodies is twofold: It is camouflage in the human world, and it protection from direct exposure to the environment. The hosts brain and any organs visible (e.g. eyes, skin, etc) from outside the body are left intact. The vampire binds itself to the brain to process the environment around it (for language etc) and to draw from its hosts memories.
The vampire must drink human blood to maintain the organs of the body it has stolen and to get energy. Without a ready supply of blood the creature will retreat to colder environments to slow its metabolism. In warmer climates the vampires prefer to take fit, thin bodies to make it easier to regulate their temperature. In colder climates they prefer heavier hosts.
In the event that it is starved of blood the host’s hair and teeth falls out, skin, tongue and eyes dry out. Eventually the blood deprived remains will be start to decay and the vampire must leave.
Because the vampires are effectively cold blooded, and are dormant when cold, the vampires buy up cool stores to house mooks without having to find enough blood to keep them alive at once. More established bases can remotely defrost batches of low level vampires.
Vampires high in the conspyramid travel in freezer cars in trains and boats to move undetected around Europe and later the world.
This vampire is driven by it’s alien biology to infect a planet, and breed the next generation of alien spores that will be sent on to consume other planets.
It builds a network of vampires and henchmen to achieve two goals: produce as many vampire spawn as possible, and to acquire the appropriate technology (produced from first principles where needed) to launch the next generation onto the next iteration of the cycle.
Most of the vampires the agents will encounter in a temperate climate will use the following:
||Aberrance 12, Hand-To-Hand 10, Health 10
||0 (Claws [see other powers], Extended Canines), -1 (Fist, kick, head-butt)
||Tar-like anatomy: -2 against melee weapons; firearms and projectiles do half damage. Car crashes and falls do 1 point of damage. The host body is numb to pain but the organism within is not*. No damage taken from cold environments.
||Extend host fingers into claws (perforates the epidermis, and requires healing via Regeneration or Drain), Infection (Must kill and gut target first. On a 1pt Aberrance spend the vampire can discard its current body and transfer itself to the victim, on a 2pt Aberrance spend it may seperate a portion of itself into a new create that will incubate within the victim), Spider Climb (requires extending claws, same caveat applies), Vampiric Speed, Regeneration (takes a couple of minutes).
||Fire (does normal damage)**.
||Drink blood, maintain body temperature.
* When the vampire falls below 0 Health (e.g is Hurt) it does not need to make a consciousness roll due to not feeling any pain in the host body. However as the damage is debilitating to the host, the standard penalties for being Hurt still apply. When Seriously Wounded no consciousness roll must be made, but health does continue to drop. If -12 is reached, the host body is too badly damaged and the vampire must abandon it.
** When in particularly hot environments (furnaces, burning buildings, etc) the vampire sweats profusely. While these vampires are not explicitly hurt by sunlight, if enough time is spent in the sun its metabolism will increase.
I’ve taken ideas from a number of sources including:
- The BBC’s Frozen Planetseries. There are two aspects:
- Wooly Bear Caterpillers can freeze completely solid over winter to hibernate, and then thaw out to continue the work of eating enough to finally transform into a moth. It takes several summer seasons for the caterpillar to finally transform. This is the central idea for this vampire.
- There is a kind of weasel that lives in the frozen north and hunts tiny voles through the tunnels that the voles construct in the snow. The weasel is narrow enough to fit anywhere the vole can. Once it kills the vole it drags it back to a nest it has made within the warrens. Not only does the weasel eat the vole, but it tears off all the fur from the hide to make a nest with so that it won’t freeze. Stealing the body of its prey and using it to survive in the environment is taken from this.
- H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour out of Space. This is a story about a different kind of vampire from the stars. I’ve just lifted the detail about the alien traveling between the stars in meteors.
- Jack the Ripper: Gory details about how the creature steals bodies and its lifecycle.
- John Carpenter’s The Thing, The episode of The X-Files called Ice (itself a homage to The Thing), and the Valyen from Christopher Moeller’s Iron Empires / Burning Empires: small details about and tone about body invading and mimicking alien menaces.
This article originally appeared on A Lazy Sequence.