The Soldier and the Vampire, a Russian Fairy Tale for Playing RPG Games

The Soldier and the Vampire, a Russian Fairy Tale for Playing RPG Games

Eastern Europe and Russian are the lands of the vampires. Few peoples have created such a dark pantheon of creatures as have those in Eastern Europe, so it comes as no surprise that Russian Fairy tales like that of “The Soldier and the Vampire” will help you make some of the darkest fantasy role playing games and worlds. Such stories are important to read, not only to go to the source of inspiration but because often times such vampires are very different from what we would expect. In the folk tale “The Soldier and the Vampire” a soldier meets a vampire who acts friendly and cordial to him, and goes with him to a wedding party. At first the vampire is friendly at the wedding party as well but then as he gets drunk he turns into the monster. Driving out the wedding guests and then causing the groom and the bride to pass out. He then uses an awl to drain their blood, in revenge for imagined wrongs, so as to hold their life in vials.

The soldier for his part must fight this vampire until dawn, and then at the cock’s crow the vampire falls lifeless, for it is not that exposure to sunlight burns these monsters, but rather that during the day vampires such as the one in this story loose their magical mobility. However even when lifeless vampires are not so easy to defeat. For in this story he must be burnt with birch wood, and as he burns thousands of maggots, cats, and other animals will appear and attempt to flee the fire, these hold his soul so if but one gets away he will come back to life to seek revenge.

In Role Playing Games vampires have become fairly typical with only one kind, or perhaps different clans in some cases. However in folklore there where dozens of different vampires some barely resembling others, needing to be killed by stakes, by burning, or in this case by burning with a specific type of wood. Such a vampire could make for a long term villain for PC’s as it comes back over and over again. Forcing them to face a now more clever opponent every night as they search for someone who would know how to kill this creature for once and for all. This search could lead them into dark woods, and distant lands to find a witch, perhaps to Baba Yaga herself.

Another interesting way to run the way to run the search for the defeat the monster in RPG campaigns is to have an elder, a grandparent type figure help direct the PC’s. This would help to draw them into the world, and would therefore allow more of a story, something necessary for true horror campaigns (should you wish to run one).

It is also important to notice in the fairy tale of “The Soldier and the Vampire” that the soldier and the vampire start out as relative friends, that only after drinking does the vampire show any real outward signs of evil. The villains the PC’s are forced to fight then could be a friend, someone they may have known for a short time or even a longer while, who is prone to a sudden violent attack not even directed towards the PC’s. The PC’s are then left with the choice between saving a village or the person they know, again such fairy tale dilemma’s are what could truly make the RPG plot line so interesting.

Another important aspect of this story to add to your plot lines is simply the act of visiting peasant weddings for a rest. Doing simple things like this can help bring your characters more fully into the richness of the fantasy world and it is such things as this after all that help separate good fantasy novels from bad ones, for where nearly all fantasy stories will have battle scenes only the great ones will have your characters interact with the folk of the world. It is this first and foremost that you will be able to take from folktales to make all your role playing game ideas better.