“The Old Blood courses through your veins, cousin. Can you feel its power? Such strength… and yet soon, that same strength will be mine.”
Appearing in cultures throughout the Old World, the Old Blood is an ancient lineage of enchanted hereditary that stretches back past known history. For the most part it is found among the nobility, as its power such that it allows them to rule through threat or use of force. It grants preturnatural strength and endurance to those who possess it, but its use takes a colossal toll. Without constant rejuvenation, the Old Blood can destroy a person from within if used too much. Sollundom’s nobility is therefore somewhat gluttonous.
The Blood can be passed through birth, or it can be taken through ritualised feeding that kills the victim – who must themselves possess the Old Blood. Rulership in Sollundom is a game of paranoia, the Blooded constantly looking over their shoulders to ensure their own safety, while always on the prowl for an opportunity to increase their own power. The Orcs of the New World do not appear to manifest the Blood.
In the Old World, the Blooded stand astride the land as titans looming over their domain. They form the backbone of Sollundom’s aristocracy and are the most powerful of the noble classes. They rule the various nations and hold positions of power throughout the churches. Despite their role in the story of the death of Sollun, they have long since co-opted the churches’ influence to support their place as the divinely-ordained rulers of the world. They are dukes, generals, guild leaders, cardinals and lords.
In the New World, the Blooded need to watch their backs because they lack the armies and fortresses which keep them safe from each other. They stalk each other through the settlements and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. They must decide whether to hide their power entirely or to look strong enough to see off any challengers. That’s without even considering the silver-skinned creatures that stalk the wilderness.
Playing a character with the blood
The Old Blood is inspired by physically-powerful characters from fiction and mythology, who are prone to use overwhelming force or dark cunning to solve their problems. They are not stupid, or outright evil – such traits tend to cause avoidable mistakes – but they are not nice people, instead tending towards selfishness, paranoia and brutality. The most powerful of the Old Blood exude raw violence and an air of menace: their very presence is unnerving and threatening.
A character with the Old Blood will mostly prioritise their own survival. Either through anonymity or through a steady increase in their power, they all seek to secure their position of safety. An Old Blood is unlikely to have friends or allies with the Blood, since they all represent competition and are each others’ natural predators. Instead, the Old Blood will attempt to surround themselves with dupes (unaware of their true nature) or lackeys willing to serve them in exchange for a taste of power.
While they have a lot in common with vampire lore, they don’t have the sexiness, seclusion or grace of vampires – they don’t experience the decadence brought on by immortality. Instead they are driven by the need to secure their own position, commanding through base emotion: fear, intimidation, greed. For the most part, they lack capacity for protectiveness, selflessness, or complex manipulation; they have difficulty forming connections as equals, and are too busy focussing on short-term gains and goals to form lasting bonds of loyalty.
Characters to look at for ideas include:
- Hercules & Achilles, from Greek myth
- Darth Vader, from Star Wars
- The Masked Rider, from Solomon Kane
- Angel Dust, from Deadpool
- Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane & Brienne of Tarth, from Game of Thrones
- Faith, from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
- Sarevok, from Baldur’s Gate series
- General Kael, from Willow
- Sauron (physical form), from Lord of the Rings
- Arthas Menethil, from the Warcraft series
- Gamora & Ronan the Accuser, from The Guardians of the Galaxy
- Alice (superhuman form), from the Resident Evil films
- Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises
- Henry VIII, from The Tudors
- General Zod & Faora-Ul, from Man of Steel
Note the lack of heroes, even physically-powerful ones like Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Ellen Ripley, Goku or Captain America. The Old Blood might, at best, defend their close allies as if they were precious resources – they do not fight for ideals, friendship, or justice. They are the embodiment of the dark side of aristocratic power and the divine right of kings.