Impractical Applications (Carmilla Demonstrates Talky Villains)

I may pride myself on my talking-prone villains, but none of them are what inspired this week’s stretch of post. Rather, it was the running antagonist from the Dresden Files RPG game run by one of my friends during my hiatus, a Red Court vampire by name of Carmilla.

She’d started out as an element from our Infected, Juicer’s, backstory, apparently the one who’d turned him. In the first session she showed up, she cowed Juicer by existing, and—well, let’s just say that encounter was how I figured out that my own character, a wizard by name of Aisling, was the type to curse. (Or to mock, for that matter: “Give my regards to Laura!”)

I think things started shifting around the coin incident. Juicer changed his mind about her because of her rant on her motivation—then again, his player’s a sucker for the evil-by-being-misguided. Aisling, on the other hand, was probably most influenced by the “I did that?” element of the incident, in which she pulled herself out of a Sight-match she really shouldn’t have been able to handle and managed to hold off her resulting migraine long enough for a firm “Get. Out.” There’s something rather satisfying about the absurdly overpowered opponent hightailing it out of there.

Then he set up the main fight for that arc; as he explained it to me, this was seeing what I’d do with an Option A situation. Short version: duel between Carmilla and another vampire results in nasty god-thing rampaging around English countryside. Fortunately, we had advance warning, and my crazy planning tendencies kicked into overdrive early. Blackmail the vampire in order to power up a teammate? Yep.

So the duel goes, and Carmilla barely wins, and her second drags her to where we’re hanging out and waiting for our part of the fight. I’m not sure if it was Juicer’s pleading, or Aisling’s own belief in standing behind the combat monster, or a combination of the above, but the end result was Aisling engaging in a combination of preexisting spellwork and improvisational evocation to get her back on her feet and something approximating armed, during which Carmilla dropped a not-quite-recruiting pitch, and after which she was willing to admit to a certain level of gratitude.

It was really odd from my standpoint as a player, in the partial-group game a bit later, when Aisling found herself not-quite-advocating keeping the lady around.

What worked with her? She never actually got in a fight with us, keeping her confrontations verbal in nature (but still quite confrontational) and thereby ensuring that she stuck around. She was willing to admit when we had the advantage. Her motivations and her overall personality made her interesting, particularly as she played to two different players’ favored qualities for their opponents. And she was at one point set up in a not-quite-enemies situation near the end of the first arc. As a result, she grew on us.

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  1. Tales from the Sketchbook: Carmilla | Exchange of Realities

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