Retro-Hammer: Vampires

Tis the time of year, where the nights get long and the creatures in the dark corners of the world come out to play. That right, its October and Halloween is just around the corner. I have always loved this time of year, and Halloween in particular. It’s the best time to enjoy a scary movie or two with friends and loved ones, and cuddle up indoors as the weather takes a turn for the worst. Sadly, Covid 19 means a lot of those gatherings are off the table at the moment. But I refuse to let it spoil Halloween for me.

Yesterday we started a months’ worth of spooky themed content here at Master of Magics, to help you celebrate Halloween in the comfort of your own home. If like me you love Halloween, make sure you subscribe to Master of Magics to not miss any of our creepy content in the coming weeks. Today, it is time to jump into the 41st Millennium and look at one of the more bizarre creatures you wouldn’t expect to find in the 40k universe. A creature that goes by many names, from Vampyre, Vampyr and also Wahmpury, but you might know it better as a Vampire.

Now when I say Vampire, I don’t mean the surprisingly handsome and supremely anger boys of the Blood Angel chapter. No, I am talking about the classic shape changing beast of legend, that will steal your life force and can take the form of a bat. We are talking classic Bram Stoker’s monsters here my friends. You see, back in the wild west that was Warhammer 40,000; Rogue Trader, there were rules and stat lines for a variety of different creatures to use in your games. From Dinosaurs to the previously mentioned Slann, you could have all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures in your games. One of these was of course the Vampire, complete with its own horde of Zombie servants.

Mentioned in the tales of ancient terra, these creatures are polymorphic entities able to radically alter their metabolism in order to resemble the creatures they live among. As described in the Rogue Trader Rulebook, “Their natural shape (if such it can be called) is bat-like, although still approximately humanoid and the size of a man.”

“Vampires exist within the societies of most of the established intelligent species of the galaxy, and often assume positions of authority. They naturally crave power amongst other peoples, regarding even fellow Vampires as threatening rivals. They have no known homeworld. Where they evolved and why they have come to occupy a parasitic position within alien societies is unknown.”

Vampires would survive among the native population by draining the life force of victims (although they could also eat and drink regular food to subsidies their diet) and victims that were killed by the Vampire could be resurrected as Zombies to guard their master. They also have psychic powers on a level comparable to that of human psyker, and as a result can be a dangerous foe to defeat.

Now obvouisly, this creature (like Orks and Zoats) was a hold over from GW’s fantasy game that was brought over to their new Sci-fi setting. But what might surprise you is that unlike other concepts that have long since been abandoned, Vampire were still referenced as recently as the novel Fabius Bile: Clonelord. High Marshall Helbrecht of the Black Templars was also noted as slay such a beast in his younger days, earning a place among the Sword Brethren. 

So, it’s fair to say that these creatures still haunt the galaxy and could be at the heart of many imperial and alien governments. Which means they are perfect for some Halloween inspired narrative games this October. After all, how do you know that your Regimental Commander isn’t a foul warp spawned blood sucker seeking to expand his sphere of influence? That’s right, you can’t. So its up to you to dispatch this foul being before it makes you one of its Zombie servants. 

Given that they are shapeshifters you could easily just say your Warlord is a Vampire in disguise, possible by giving it a Undead/Pale complexion it convey this. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous you could play with some home brewed rules to represent the Vampire in its “true form”. Grab a suitable model (the Abhorrant Archregent from Age of Sigmar is perfect) and create your own data sheet for this evil creature. Or, if you like, you could just use these home brew rules I made for my own games.

If you’re feeling even more ambitious, you could even given the Vampire a unit of Zombie slaves, using the Poxwalker rules to represent these poor souls. Or even have the Vampire hidden in your army at the start of the game. Note down one character in your force, and when that model is slain, it is replaced with the above creature, turning your opponents into really Vampire hunters.

As for an adversary? Well there are no end of possibilities. Maybe a Deathwatch Kill Team is dispatched to hunt down an alien warlord, only to discover it is a Vampire in disguise. Or perhaps one of these creatures has taken over an imperial world, and a crusade of Sisters of Battle have been sent to free it from its dark grasp. Go nuts and create what ever scenario you like. So long as you are having fun that is the main thing.

We hope you have enjoyed our exploration into the retro past of Games Workshop. What spooky subject would you like us to talk about next this October? Let us know in the comments below, or find me on twitter @MTGTengu and maybe we will talk about it next time.

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