Strigoi are coming to Venice, so what are they?
We’re going to have a little look into the Strigoi – where they came from, what they are, and what they’re like on the gaming table.
Where Did They Come From?
Short answer: Vlad Dracula.
Long answer: Vlad is the first Gifted. He partook in an ancient blood ritual to open a portal to the place beyond – the place that Venetians see through the Rent in the Sky. While his Rent lasted for but a second, Vlad was touched by something beyond, and given the powers he now possesses.
Some would see this gift as a curse: Vlad is essentially immortal, able to regenerate from grievous wounds, but his thirst for blood is never quenched. He travels from place to place to discover the truth about his curse, and has found himself drawn towards Venice to live under the Rent – the source of his powers.
His biggest gift to others comes from the Blood Kiss. A bizarre transference of energy back and forth, taking from his victims and giving a small amount of himself back. They gain a fraction of his powers, heightening their natural abilities to near super-human levels of speed, aggression, and awareness. His Strigoi gain slight healing abilities when drinking blood under the gaze of the Rent.
What Are They?
The big question is: why are they all so different?
Whenever a Strigoi feasts on a victim, they gain fragments of their essence. Their memories and mannerisms are transferred, giving the Strigoi a view into their minds. This is of course beneficial for the Strigoi as it makes them excellent infiltrators, but it takes something away from them too.
The process is similar to inviting pieces of a personality into your head, which brings deep psychological changes in the Strigoi. Not just that though, the Strigoi physically change depending on what blood they drink.
Vlad is no stranger to this, as he changes accordingly too. He limits himself to only the finest blood from the smartest scholars, bravest warriors, and largest fighters. His stature is that well over a normal person, and his martial abilities are unchallenged, as he has gained the skills of all those he has bested.
He uses his Strigoi as simple cattle, guiding them to feast on certain types of people or creatures to fully understand where the evolutionary path will lead. Noble Strigois are only allowed to feed (as their name suggests) on highborns. Reapers on the other hand are instructed to feed on violent psychopaths and madmen, leading them to a frenzy that has no escape, forcing them to be chained up between skirmishes.
Stranger still are the elusive Nosferatu. These creatures feed only on the blood of mages – a powerful source that put even Vlad himself into a year-long coma. They must partake of only the tiniest drop, lest their bodies rupture. This leads them to have a withered, starved appearance, but gifts them very limited mystical abilities as they see through reality itself.
How Do They Play?
This all leads to that vital question. You like the idea of a crazed dictator sending his cattle into the streets to feed on the helpless (and not so helpless) of Venice. You like the models (particularly that cool Common Strigoi in the centre), but what are they like in the game?
Well, if you like OP characters that can be extremely hard to take down, this is the gang for you!
Strigoi characters are extremely fast, especially when buffed up with the faction Command Ability:
They don’t tend to have many weapons, which means fewer combat bonuses, but it also means they don’t suffer as much when attacking in water. Doesn’t matter if your fangs get a bit wet! With high Attack values and Dexterity though, they’re always able to put out the hurt when and where you need it.
They also have fairly low Protection all round, which means they do well on the offensive, but tend to fall quickly if your opponent musters a decent counter-attack.
Strigoi are unique in Carnevale in that they have 0 Will Points. These handy points are used for casting spells (something that Strigoi cannot do) and for boosting up your dice rolls. With none available, it puts them at quite a disadvantage.
…If it weren’t for the Frenzied special rule. Any character with this rule can use their Life Points as Will Points. That means they have a potential much larger stash of Will Points than any other faction, although it hurts them every time they use them. Couple with their low Protection, it can be a dangerous game.
However, Strigoi characters also gain the benefit of (surprise surprise) the Vampiric Attack special rule. Any time a character with this rule does damage from a Combat action in base contact, they gain Life Points back as they drink their enemies’ blood! These two rules combined mean that Strigoi are very focused on risk vs reward. You can use loads of your Life Points as Will Points provided you’re able to drink them back with Vampiric Attack!
When it goes right with Strigoi it goes very right, and your opponents will have very little to do against you. However, if it starts going wrong it can spiral very quickly as you use up all your own Life Points trying to get your goals accomplished!
If you feel like you need a little extra help though, you can always recruit a few Thralls who are able to give their Life Points to your Strigoi characters. Very useful!
So there we have it – a brief overview of the Strigoi. Do they tickle your fancy? Would you like to take to Venice to uncover its secrets in the name of the Impaler of Wallachia, Dracula himself? The Strigoi Footsoldiers set is available for pre-order on Friday, and there are a few other boxes available already, so check them out now!