YOU became the hero of Mortvania back in FF38 Vault of the Vampire. Good job on killing the evil vampire lord who was terrorizing the land.
But in true Hammer Films fashion, some blood dripped onto the ashes of Count Heydrich and he’s as good as new… and mad as hell. But this time he knows you’re coming, and he got himself a horcrux. It’s a race against time as he builds a vampire army… or something far worse.
Grab a stake and a cross, and put on your best Peter Cushing voice, rrrrebel friends, cuz we’re going vampire hunting!
Review and Opinion
There’s little continuity between the two books. What mention there is of the Count doesn’t mention his previous destruction, and you later find out that he has a sister and a brother. What really would have iced the cake of this plot, would have been a tie-in to make it really feel like a return to my old nemesis. But that’s really a small point, compared to the grand scope of this adventure.
Another epic quest in a surprisingly open world with multiple paths to success, a journey on par with Slaves of the Abyss or Island of the Undead or Master of Chaos. Again, Keith Martin throws away the “one true path” idea and lets you wander through an exciting and replayable world, freed from the “one true path” style of writing.
You can visit the areas in different sequences, take two separate paths through the countryside, visit or miss an entire side quest… and still get to the boss fight. This made the book highly replayable, and it kept me amused for a week.
The game still has the Faith mechanic from Vault of the Vampire, which can sometimes attract undead to you and sometimes repel them from you, and helps resist vampire hypnosis. Faith is not used as heavily as in Vault, but I still like this mechanic a lot.
Blood Points are new. It’s a silly name, since it’s really Vampire Battle Preparedness Points. As you discover information and destroy coffins you gain Blood, and as you waste time (such as not meeting a person, not knowing the secret number) you lose Blood. This comes up at the boss fight, when the Count basically loses Stamina for those Blood points.
The boss fight itself is kinda crazy. The Count has 15 Skill and 30 Stamina. With every buff in the book you could get him down to 13 Skill and 25 Stamina, and yourself with +3 in magical armor and sword. With a Skill of 12 and some good luck you could miss some of the items and still have a chance; and with a thorough set of buffs and lore you may even survive with a Skill of 10. It took me several tries before I rolled a Skill of 12 and then got the +2 sword… and then I discovered that as before, getting the vampire down to 4 Stamina is only half the battle.
The book has a whole lot of typographical errors and connectivity problems. But despite that, this is a large and epic adventure spanning a lot of different areas, combined with multiple success paths and items being optional. To me, that’s what makes for a great book — and this was one of them.
The big one that a lot of folks have noted: the horse and the inn. On 125 you can buy a horse with all of your Gold, but on the next page the innkeeper wants 1 Gold to stay the night. That’s of course impossible, meaning that the moonstone ring and the precious codex are completely inaccessible. Fortunately, in Keith Martin style, there is a whole second path to success and you can still win. (or some folks make up hacks such as “it cost 8” or “Test Your Luck to palm a 1 Gold”)
On 243 you test your Faith to see if you get hypnotized. Naturally, the test should fail if you roll more than your Faith. A high Faith shouldn’t get you hypnotized, right?
On 334, you must pay for information and are given the option to work for the Gold. The wording is strange, though, implying that after you earn the Gold you must then move on without getting the information.
Maybe not a bug, but a design goof: On 103 in the catacombs, you lose Blood and also gain it in the same page. The net gain/loss is basically random.
Maybe not a bug but a design goof: On 293 you can attack Endrell in the dark, or else confront him. Here, “confront” means “apologize, go to bed, die in your sleep” which is just crazy. I’m not sure the intent here, but assaulting priests in the dark is a bit weird.
Written by Keith Martin
Illustrated by Martin McKenna
Book 58 in the series
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