Deshaan Vampires

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azeis's picture
azeis
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First and foremost I must say a formal greetings to the people of TR. I am new to the forum, and thusly lack much of the experience in how the project works in terms of who is listened to, how much say is up to who, what goes where, etc. So I beg forgiveness of those if this post is poorly placed or otherwise insulting to the core functions, ideas, philosophy, and such of the TR project. It is not born of anything but ignorance on my part. Now to the actual post
      Looking around, I have seen some discussion regarding the Deshaan plains, a salty wasteland mostly populated by argonian slaves unless I am mistaken, under the warrant of House Dres. I have done a small amount of reading on the region, and the more I read about it, the more I start to think about what a perfect place it would be for vampires, or perhaps even a clan of vampires. The following should tell more about where I am coming from:

 

  •    The population of the region is mostly comprised of expendable humanoid cattle, cattle that nobody would care to search for in the event one had gone missing. Not only this, but if one were to find themselves dead and drained of their fluids, the plains would almost certainly make quick work of the body before it would ever be found, leaving it dificult to determine the cause of death to be vampires.
  •    The landscape provides a perfect hiding place. From what I’ve read, the Deshaan area is mostly a hazard to anyone there for prolonged periods of time. This means anybody searching around on the plains is going to rush things, and likely won’t search for too long anyways. Even if they get close to finding the hideout, there is plenty of time to pick up and leave to a new one. Not only this, but there is also an abundance of caves in the region if I am not mistaken, caves that I am fairly sure would more than likely provide the perfect hiding hole. It would be near impossible for them to collapse without some jostling do to how hard and strong the soil has become.
  •    The region is a backwoods one. This would fit well with the idea that vampires are a threat in the less inhabited bits of morrowind, especially since it is connected to the mainland, and by proxy Cyrodil, a place NPC’s will say (if I remember correctly) has a much worse vampire problem than morrowind do to the temple. Speaking of the temple…
  •    Conflict would be inevitably rich for quest exploitation. The Dres are much more traditional in their ways, and would likely see the vampires as an affrontment to their presence, and to the temple as a whole, more than the other houses, but the landscape means they can’t cleanse them as effectively. The fact that the primary victims would be slaves would also mean there wouldn’t be much of an outrage from anyone outside of House Dres to send warriors to deal with the problem, so they might have to rely more on mercenaries and hired hands to help ease the problem a little without endangering more of their own number. You probably see where I am going with this.
  •    These vampires could be significantly different from normal vampires elsewhere. This means it could provide something new and challenging for the players to overcome as they reach this area and move about more. Maybe these vampires are horrifyingly disfigured by the conditions of the plains, or look dried out and husklike to fit in with the theme? Perhaps the conditions have lead the vampires to become more ravenous than normal?
Now there is an issue/question that I have that must be answered: how tolerant are vampires to the toxic conditions of the Deshaan at its worst (flooding the caves with toxic chemicals), and could the caves provide adequate protection from these hazards?
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Before I dive into answering this, have you talked with the other devs about vampires in the Deshaan?

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The thing we did talk about in Discord was how the vampires would interact with the Dres – since they are secretly ruled by people who would want to keep vampires out, the vampires would need to be fairly reclusive.
Hunting vampires is not exclusive to the temple, magical artifacts which flow in through the Mages Guild or Dres enchanters are a lot more common than in low-magic settings and the Dres warriors do seem more capable than travel caravans and such. That obviously means that praying on the lone caravan is something that local vampires would do, no problem. Just would need to make sure to keep on the down low in general and not establish a pattern (or make it obvious that it’s vampires who do the killing and kidnapping).

I do remember we did talk about chlorine pools, as MW’s lava pools have no heat damage until you step into them, and how that would interact with vampires who don’t need to breathe. I don’t recall what we ended up on

I’m not opposed to a few vampires in the Deshaan, but they should imo not be a fully realized clan. Scavengers and hunting packs, sure. Vampires in TES are also of all kinds of shapes and gifts, so the difference between clan and a couple of vampires sharing the same heritage (and gift) is merely political will and power projection capability of the clan head.

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If memory serves, I believe we ended up discussing the effects of the gases on the player, as well as some of the chemical effects of Chlorine on living things. It is not so much that they don’t need to breath that vampires go unharmed as much as it is that the things with chlorine that would normally kill a mortal simply would not kill a vampire, would probably disfigure them though, chlorine gas was a popular chemical weapon.

I agree they should not be a traditional clan by the usual morrowind standpoint, what I have in mind is more like a chain reaction of events leading to a sort of makeshift, animalistic “clan” in a very loose sense. Basically, the high numbers of submissive and readily available slaves, and chlorine pools to dump bodies after feeding, would attract normal vampires to the region who would hide in caves at day and use the chlorine to their advantage. They think it is a perfect gig at first, free food, remote hiding, and protection from both the sun and mortals. The kink is that they would be twisted and warped mentally and physically by either the gases, the pools, the high-in-lizard diet, or some other unknown force if we want to leave some mystery there. The “clan” would more be a tribalistic grouping of animals rather than an organization, similar to a pack of predatory animals, where you usually have an alpha.

I however would like to see, if the idea is actually put into any kind of practice, a semi-constant presence of the Deshaan vampires, not in the physical sense though. What I mean is more of the unseen paranoid omni-presence that, say, Sauron of LOTR is known for. Get the player to ask, “was this slave I found in the pools killed by the pools, or something else? Was this particular event caused by this, or the other thing?” Keep the player on his toes, always observing the puzzle, because while the Deshaan vampires may not actually have any greater organization within themselves, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a very interesting tool for other conflicts and villains to use.

Not only this idea, but would the Dres even know about the infestation? For example, say I am a high official in that business, and there are reports of one or two bodies of slaves or the poor lonesome caravaner who went missing a few weeks back, and they weren’t dumped into the pools, therefor it is possible to conclude the vampire presence. Would they conclude they have an infestation problem, or that they just have one or two vampires hunting in some of the areas, taking advtanage of the remoteness of the lands, like any other remote region of morrowind? Maybe some people in Dres know about the problem while others do not? Keep the player on that string of questioning what is known, and who knows it, as this can be a wonderful way to build tension and suspense.

Ol’ Aze
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Hm, this intrigues me, and there was some thought that the vampire Dres councillors might try to blame actual vampires if their victims were ever found out. I also like that you’re thinking of giving these vampires a little more personification with the barely-intelligent brutes, and think it could be interesting for a player to be infected and inducted into this clan. (Each clan had a few quests attached..)

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The councilors thing would seem to impose that any saltplain-specific vampires were initially sired by them, with or without their knowledge…
Or something. Narrative doesn’t like thematic coincidences, especially if they’re not exploited.

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Why are vampires anywhere? 

The Councilor vampirism doesn’t pass on or really work as vampirism if I remember right, beyond them needing to feed and hide their features from the outside world, though the player (and anyone in-world discovering them) might wonder at such.

Perhaps they are even more ancient than the Dres. Dwemer vampires? Hmm. Or possibly chased/exiled from another clan for their bestiality, made to live in the worst part of the land.

They may also have a connection to Skyrenders somehow, as the hives might’ve been the only place to get out of the sun in the salt flat areas.

 

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Kevaar is right that the Councilor vampirisim doesn't follow the normal rules of vampirism.
Maybe they are Chimer vampires?
And adding a crazy idea cheeky, that they maybe are connected to Skyrender queens and therefore have control of certain tame hives that the Dres use?

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    Actually, the mention of the council in this way gives me a thought. First I shall go on to one of the themes of Dres, the self-defeat of trying to maintain a stasis in tradition. Each of the three deals the Dres make return to haunt them later, and they end up destroying the very traditions they wanted to maintain, just to keep themselves from falling victim to the poor ends of their deals.
     With that theme in mind, it would be a really good bit of drama and irony if these other vampires were the intention from the very start by the Daedra that the Dres vampires made deals with to obtain their immortality. The Daedra trick the Dres into signing a deal which allows them to sire undead among their number. The Daedra find they can’t control their new Dres vampires thanks to the order of the deal they made, but from there, without telling the Dres, they start to let it spread slowly through mortals who had nothing to do with the deal, and gain power and followers through the use of their vampirism, with total control to boot. Basically, the Dres thought they could screw over much more powerful forces for their own benefits in hairbrained deals, only for it to come back and bite them in the ass, just as they think they won, kind of like a Genie-in-a-lamp scenario. It would also mean that the Dres broke their traditions and violated them even moreso than they thought because they not only became vampires, but they helped to propagate a new plague. It would fit well thematically, or at least I think so.
     With a bit of polish, I think that idea can work pretty well, though it is just one of the many ways we can go with this sort of thing.
 
     I also like the idea of them having connections to skyrender queens, and the possibility that they may be more ancient than originally thought, that can go many interesting ways. Perhaps it was Dres activity on the surface, like say, their underground infrastructure if I am not mistaken, could have unearthed unspeakable horrors from the depths forgotten, horrors even the Dwemer wanted sealed and forgotten to time?
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I’m not up to date on the councilors (vampirism or not the consequence must be something more dire than them looking ugly, else it’s not much of a curse), but if it’s vampirism, assuming their deal was for immortality and porphyric haemophilia of some kind the unforeseen twist... they could have made a subsequent deal, the fools, to make it non-transmissible to their people (one of the current immortals a semi-plebeian inadvertently converted that way?, show they didn’t want to kill their own, with some official story as to that one’s ascent),
and whatever they paid for the corrective deal, the unforeseen angle was that it didn’t apply to “not their people” so they still mistakenly sired some Khajiit and Argonian vampires afterwards, origin of the current bloodlines? Would fit with Vvardenfell’s more cohesive clans being tied to specific races. Could be Argonians ironically get freed in the process! from the Hist, by the parasite.

… or none of that, but I mean if you have Salt Vampires played as some sort of concealed terror thing in the region and also the Councilors secret, given that said region is entirely tied with the Dres – you have these two special brands of vampires and there’s nothing between them at all, it’s like putting special vampires with Red Mountain powers on Red Mountain that happen to have no relation to Ash vampires or Dagoth Ur (exaggerating), that sort of thing needs lampshading at the least (e.g. making players or the locals think they’ve figured something out with the salt vampires and THEN when you think the game is done it also turns out the dres vampires are real too)

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The main difference between normal vampires and Dres vampires is that everyone cringes whenever we bat around the idea of vampire, heh. So it’s debated how Dres vampirism can be different enough from regular vampirism to feel like a Thing all on its own, unconnected with the bad cliches of other vampire lore.

And because subsequent Elder Scrolls games have apparently decided all vampirism comes from Molag Bal, it’s another hot button issue of trying to figure out why the Dres are colluding with a Corner of the House of Troubles. By intention, we don’t know which Daedra it was that gifted the Dres with their curse. (The old arguments span threads with no conclusion. So let’s not get into it again!)

Anyway, I believe the major consequence about Dres vampirism is that it is immortality, but it’s painful and maddening. I want to say the body basically kept on aging but cannot die? So you get things like constant migraines, disfigurement, body wracked with weakness, etc...and of course, you can’t show your face or “release” the pain into the oblivion of death or you risk upending Dres culture. Horrible existence, coupled with the psychological burden that if you falter, there goes your people. One has to remember that the wise women did this for the good of their clans; it’s seen as a self-sacrifice, not a power-grab.

I could see the bestial vampires being the deal gone awry in yet another way. (Can we get Clavicus Vile involved? Haha, he’s king of wishes gone awry). Though if the Dres vampirism isn’t true vampirism, that leaves another plothole.  

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    Them working with a corner of the house of troubles actually sounds like a pretty decent (though fairly heavy handed) way of putting forth that they are destroying their own traditions in trying to maintain them. I think Molag Bal, or a spirit of his domain, would probably work best, if you establish a couple of things first. Molag Bal is all about domination if I am not mistaken, and though he does provide the Dres immortality, it would wouldn’t be out of character for him to try and screw over a deal with them if he was robbed of control of their souls through the vampirism (those souls are owned by somebody else remember, and upon death would not go to the daedra; vampires in real life mythology and such, in function, were essentially humans who had lost their souls to otherworldly forces, and had basically become shapeshifters who fed on the souls of others to maintain.) Letting it spread through the Argonians and slave cattle would essentially be the Daedra’s way of getting as much as it can from the deal, taking the argonian souls, and getting revenge on the arrogant mortals as well who cheated it in a deal.

    The image I have in mind here could be that it isn’t spread like normal vampirism, but rather in a much more selective process, similar to possession. The daedra basically personally selects which victims turn and which do not depending. This would also go hand in hand with the idea of the argonian slaves’ submissiveness coming back to haunt the Dres, they are too submissive, and end up being easy for the Daedra to control without direct infection. The vampires while mad and monsterous, form a rudimentory “cult” to the daedra and worship him when they aren’t hunting, probably promising that it will lessen the pains they feel in return for their devotion and worship. At the end of the day it is more akin to a sort of spiritual and mental enslavement and madness than the usual curse.

    Small idea though to add to that I just had, to address the Dres reaction to the vampires and why they might not want to fully get rid of the daedric presence: What if doing so would not only get rid of the Deshaan vampires, but also the Dres’ vampirism, and thus dooming the entire house? That would create a very nice tense atmosphere with a neat feeling of hopelessness and lack of options for the Dres, a theme that I think goes well with their others, kind of like being trapped in a cage where the only way out is death. The only way to respect their traditions and uphold them would be to destroy the deals they’ve made, but doing so will destroy all they have managed to save, and their traditions would inevitably crumble with time like everywhere else? I am not saying the player would see any of that, or even be involved, god forbid if he was the catalyst of it. IMO, it would be more like the empire’s crumbling, an inevitability for the future that fortells hardship.

Sidenote: What plothole would that be exactly? Forgive me, I am at times not the most observant person.

Ol’ Aze
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Oneof the plotholes, which you covered, would be how it would spread. It’s implied the vampirism only affected those who made the original deals. So unless the Daedra in question is skewing things, it couldn’t spread just by accident to a clan of Deshaan vampires.

It would also call into question why the Deshaan vampires’ version of it could spread (as I’m assuming this clan’s quests would be handled like the other vampire clans, where the player must first become one), and why it leads to granting these vampires special abilities but not the Dres (another precedent set by the vanilla game: each clan has some special spell or effect unique to them, that makes them stronger in combat. Can’t exactly be stronger if the Dres wise women are just barely hanging on!)

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Ah ok, I see what you mean.

To be honest I wasn’t necessarily think of it as a joinable faction per say, but it could work. Assuming we’re down the path of the Daedra being that sort of mastermind of things, it would make sense that it would give the non-dres Deshaan vampire worshipers more boons that the other ones would not have immediately available to them. Maybe it makes some of the effects of decay turn out into their favor by using it to form some kind of makeshift weapons, utilities, or abilities with their warped flesh and bone? Are there any clans currently that focus on stealthier or light-built style strengths among the other clans? I do not know much about them (I hardly ever seem to get that far.)

Ol’ Aze