After hearing and reading so much about it, I decided to dive in and try out Thousand Year Old Vampire by Tim Hutchings. I have it in my head that I’d like to play a young Frankish knight from the Dark Age reign of Charlemagne, so I dig out my copy of Paladin: Warriors of Charlemagne by Ruben in ’t Groen because not only is it a great historical RPG but it also provides a lot of the detail for the initial period that I’ll need.

Dark Ages Vampire image by Z-GrimV on Deviant Art.

I’ll record my vampire’s experiences in this journal, updated after each session. If you want to follow his journey, read the experiences in numerical order; click here to start then follow the at the end of each paragraph. 1

Destiny is what we seek, fate is what overtakes us on the way.

Characters

  • Guillaume de Fremay, my father (mortal); stern but fair, a hunter and knight, loyal to his lord.
  • Aelis, my younger sister (mortal… later immortal enemy); fair and kind, with an impish sense of humor.
  • Mainet, my childhood friend (mortal); we explored the forests around my home together, and my father allowed him to hunt with us on occasion.
  • Brielle, the dark lady, the witch who cursed me to this never ending torment (immortal).
  • Drogo du Loup, a trapper & hunter (mortal).
  • Gauthier, a small child who I befriend, him thinking me a “water spirit” of the moors (mortal).

Skills

  • Play Musical Instrument
  • Hunt
  • Battle
  • Bloodthirsty
  • Ashamed
  • Wilderness Survival

Resources

  • The manor at Fremay, in the Ardennes. Built by my Grandfather on land gifted by Charles Martel, the Mayor of the Palace of the King, Thierry IV.
  • My sword, plain but well made; it will serve me for many years until I pass it on to my son as his first sword.
  • My brother Renier’s bible (diary); he brought it with him and gave to me as he lay on his deathbed. I treasure it as my last memory of him. Inscribed in the margins are favorite memories of my family… and reminders of their deaths.
  • Aelis' crucifix necklace, given to me by her after Mainet’s murder.
  • My Father’s old woolen cloak

Marks

  • Tattoos permanently mark most of my body, etched there by the she-devil witch I know only as Lady Brielle. They can never be removed.
  • Severe burn marks on my left hand, from being splashed with Holy Water. The wound irritates and angers me, but will not fully heal.

Memories

Memory: My Father

  1. I am Grimaud, son of Guillaume de Fremay, vassal knight to our lord Duke Thierry of Ardennes in the year of God 767 AD. For my youth, I would hunt with my father in the forests around our manor at Fremay.
  1. My father, on my eighteenth birthday, gives me the gift of my first sword. I have trained with many, but this one is mine and I will one day pass it on to my son, as my father’s sword will be mine when he passes.
  1. With Aelis turned, I visit my father to confess my sins and beg his forgiveness. He has lost my brother Renier, myself, and now thanks to me, Aelis as well. He rages at how I have taken everything, his life and bloodline, from him, how my curse must be undone and I must be cleansed. He sends a servant for Father Fromond… but before the man can leave, I kill them both. Whatever I am now, I cannot be exposed.

Memory: Wilderness

  1. Taking what few belongings I have, I lose myself in the forest where I slake my hunger for fresh blood on the animals there. I write of my family, and their fates, in the margins of Renier’s bible finding solace in reliving my time with them and relieving me of some of my shame.
  1. Out here on the moors there is little cover and concealment, but for some time now I have discovered I can take shelter from the daylight under the marshes and bogs; as with the lake, it is not a pleasant experience but it works well enough, so I endure. I am found at dusk one day by a young boy. He thinks me a esprit de l’eau - a water spirit, and although my hunger calls to me he reminds me of Mainet at the same age and I cannot find it in my unbeating heart to feed on him. Little Gauthier lives, for now.

Memory: Always Leaving

  1. My father tells me that I must be prepared to take Renier’s place in service at Autelbas. Although this may be years away and it is my duty to do so, I do not relish the thought of leaving my home in service to another. I leave home anyway, on my own terms, to find my own destiny.
  1. I must leave this place before I am found again. Traveling by daylight in a horse train is something my hunters will not expect, and I have few options. On the edge of a town one night I find a trader with his mules, likely bound to join a train in the morning. If I feed now, the hunters will know I was here, so I make his murder look like the attack of a wolf pack. His mules, clothing and meagre possessions I add to my own.
  1. The hunters are persistent, they were checking all travelers passing on the road and had the help of a priest throwing his bedamned holy water at each man as he passed in “blessing”. Although they were few and I was able to slaughter them quickly and escape, my hand was badly burned by the rank liquid. Traveling as quickly as I can, I make it to moorlands to the north where civilization rarely ventures and there is precious little to feed on, but I feel safe for now. In this wilderness I contemplate my actions; I am Grimaud le Perdu, for I am truly lost.

Memory: Becoming Undead

  1. In my wandering I come across the Black Man, the silhouette of a man without a heart carved out in the granite rock just south of Christnach, and meet the Lady Brielle there. She enchants me, and I find myself in her company more often than not until one morning I awake to find myself branded across my body with devil’s marks and Brielle gone. I feel… different, a thirst I did not have before threatens to overcome me in the company of others.
  1. Confused, I return to my home at Fremay. I cannot seek counsel from my father after leaving so suddenly and against his will, so I go to see Mainet but he rejects me as ungodly and cursed. In my rage at his rejection, I draw my sword and cut him down. As he lies on the floor, bleeding to death, I feel only a dark thirst from within…

Memory: Chase and Escape

  1. The forest has been my home for more years than I can count, the animals and people of Fremay and nearby villages my prey for that time, and although I have tried to be careful rumors of the “Branded Man” are growing. Lone travelers are too easily spotted, but horse trains have become commonplace for goods transport and maybe I can use that to my advantage. As long as I stay covered and can hold my hunger for a time, I can travel without suspicion for a new life far from here. Soon.
  1. They have found me! I was careless; I could not contain my hunger and in a frenzy fed on a single family in one night, groups of villagers search the forest for the “Branded Man” and I must leave. Now. I take a chance and stop at the manor, my old home, now desolate and abandoned. I find my father’s favorite cloak, bedraggled and worn with time but useful as concealment, so I take it. His sword is nowhere to be found.
  1. A hunting party, well armed and with dogs, have caught my scent. I recognize their leader, a man known as Drogo du Loup - the Wolf. I have seen him many times in the forest, even learned survival skills by observing him from time to time. I take to the rivers and streams to conceal my scent but they come too close when I find a lake blocking my path; I under the water. My curse will not let me die, but the experience of sour water entering my body is not pleasant.

Diary - Renier’s Bible

Memory: My Family

  1. My elder brother, Renier, returns from his service at Autelbas for a brief visit. He goes hunting with my father, but his horse falls and he receives grievous injuries which take him from us a few days later. My father is inconsolable.
  1. Aelis, my sister, hears that I have returned and finds me at Mainet’s a few days later. I tell her of my curse but instead of fleeing in terror at my appearance she gives me her gold crucifix to wear hoping it will calm the darkness within me, and although I can scarcely bear to touch it I take it from her.
  1. As Aelis tends to me in the forest late one evening, my thirst grows unbearable; her crucifix burns me to my soul each time I touch it. I throw it at her in anger; she screams and runs for the manor and the safety of home. Before I know it, the hunt is upon me and I can no longer control myself. By morning, I know Aelis no longer lives, though her corpse is nowhere to be found. I fear instead of death my curse has now become hers as well.

Analysis and Thoughts

Session One

This first session took about 90 minutes and didn’t involve much referencing of the TYOV book; the rules are pretty straightforward. The majority of the time was spent reading up on Frankish Knights, names, places, etc and was pretty interesting in itself. As I wrote the character’s experiences I started to really like the character and the way he was developing; he’s certainly a tragic figure. Even though I’m writing the experiences, it feels as though the character is telling his own story and I have no idea what will come next.

Session Two

I was initially stumped by a prompt that talked about me taking advantage of a change in goods transport, simply because in the 8-9th centuries nothing much happened in that regard. My research showed only that horse trains of 50+ became more commonplace around that time, so I ran with it as best I could. I’m still not sure about the whole chase & escape thing either, as I came across several prompts in a row which forced me to write about being hunted and escaping to somewhere new all the time. It was certainly harder to think of something to write, but I guess that’s the nature of the game and I’m reasonably happy with the outcome.


  1. In case you’re wondering, here’s a quick rundown of the TYOV rules. The vampire’s undead life consists of a series of Experiences which are short paragraphs written in response to a series of randomly generated writing prompts. Experiences are kept in Memories, of which the vampire can have up to five at any time. Memories can be moved to Diaries at any time, but while Memories remain, Diaries can be lost. Along the way, the vampire encounters Characters who may be friends, enemies, mortals or immortals. They accumulate Resources which may be carried with them or fixed and immovable, either of which may be lost over time. They can learn, use and lose skills that may help (or even hinder) them over the centuries, and lastly they acquire indelible Marks which hint at the unearthly nature of the vampire. ↩︎