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Lord Ruthven is the original literary Vampyre aristocrat, created by John Polidori as a direct parody of Lord Byron. He is also a product of the same storytelling contest at the Villa Diodati that inspired Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein! Relatively young, and not particularly powerful for his kind, Lord Ruthven makes a good early antagonist for characters not yet ready to confront the likes of Carmilla Von Karnstein or Count Dracula. He he is written-up for use with Ghastly Affair, the Gothic Game of Romantic Horror.

Lord Ruthven
High Society seducer, and cold-blooded killer

Full Name: Lord Ruthven (his true full name is unknown)
Aliases: The Earl of Marsden
Class: Libertine / Vampyre
Level: 2 / 4
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A well-dressed but distressingly pale man, with black hair, and dead gray eyes.
Age: Late 20s (apparent)

Charisma: 17 Intelligence: 11 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 12 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Perversity: 18
Assets: Master of High Society
Afflictions: Compulsive Gambler

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 25
Attacks: 1 (dagger in human form, teeth and claws in Vampyric Form)

Libertine Special Abilities: Disguise (+1) | Dueling (+1/+3) | Fraud (+1) | Sneak (+1) | Seduction (+1)
Vampyre Special Abilities: Assume Vampyric Form | Revenant Immunities | Rise From Death |Supernatural Combatant | Preternatural Powers: Hypnotism, Inspire Dark Devotion, Inhuman Strength, Unnatural Charisma
Libertine Weaknesses: Faithless Lover | Fascinated By Innocence
Vampyre Weaknesses: Blood-Lust | Vampyric Debilities: Cadaverous Skin Color, Strange Eyes, Obsessive Love, Restored by the Moon

Typical Equipment Carried: A set of clothes in the latest style. High boots. A fine hat of beaver fur. An ataghan (long, curved Turkish dagger). A walking stick. 1000p in bank notes.
Residence: London, but enjoys traveling to Italy and Greece.

Background: Lord Ruthven’s actual background before 1812 is unknown. Nothing about any personal history he reveals will stand up to investigation. He will claim various titles to impress women, but none of them can be verified. All anyone will ever be able to uncover is that he seems to owe considerable amounts of money to various creditors, all of whom believe different things about his actual identity.

  • January 1812: Lord Ruthven appears in London. He makes the acquaintance of a young man named Aubrey.
  • June 1812: In debt, Lord Ruthven leaves England for the Continent. He is followed by Aubrey, who decide to make the trip his Grand Tour. Lord Ruthven visits every gambling house he can along the way.
  • Early July, 1812: Lord Ruthven arrives in Rome, where he begins the seduction of a Countess’ daughter.
  • Late July, 1812: Aubrey quarrels with Lord Ruthven about the latter’s dishonorable intentions towards the Countess’ daughter, and leaves for Greece. Lord Ruthven secretly follows him.
  • August 1812: Under cover of night Lord Ruthven murders Aubrey’s beloved, a young Greek woman named Ianthe. He is surprised by Aubrey, who does not recognize him in the darkness of a hut where the two accidentally meet. Lord Ruthven is about to kill Aubrey when he is surprised by villagers bearing torches. He flees into the night. Later, Lord Ruthven appears and tends to Aubrey as the young man lies delirious in bed.
  • September 1812: Lord Ruthven and Aubrey wander Greece, visiting ruins.
  • Late September, 1812: Lord Ruthven and Aubrey are ambushed by bandits during the day. Lord Ruthven is mortally wounded, but he makes Aubrey promise to expose his body to the moonlight after death. He also makes Aubrey swear not to reveal his crimes, or the fact of his death, for a year and a day.
  • January, 1813: Lord Ruthven appears again in England, and begins using the title “The Earl of Marsden”. When Aubrey sees him, Lord Ruthven reminds him of his solemn oath. Lord Ruthven begins the seduction of Aubrey’s sister.
  • Late September, 1813: Lord Ruthven marries Aubrey’s sister, making Aubrey so furious and distraught that he bursts blood vessel in his brain, and dies shortly thereafter. Lord Ruthven murders his new wife, and leaves for the continent.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Lord Ruthven is an aggressive seducer of women, who takes great delight in corrupting innocent maids and happily married women, but is bored by wanton ladies. He appears to take little actual pleasure in life, but acts with desperate intensity. He can nonetheless be quite charming when he cares to, and will appear to be a great friend. In fact he is a heartless manipulator, and will eventually betray any companion. He especially loves to kill those beloved by his misguided associates. Lord Ruthven loves to lavish gifts upon criminals, drug addicts, and others despised by society, but will not show the least charity to the guiltless poor.

Lord Ruthven in Your Game: Lord Ruthven is likely to be found haunting London High Society (the “Ton”), but could also be encountered at parties in Rome or Venice. Travelers to the ancient ruins of Greece could find him there, apparently sight-seeing (but actually looking for his next victim). Any True Innocents will naturally be singled out for seduction and eventual murder. If any of the players have actually read Polidori’s “The Vampyre”, have Lord Ruthven initially use a new alias. The ideal time for PCs to encounter Lord Ruthven is after October of 1813. If PCs encounter and destroy him before 1812, however, that just means that John Polidori’s tale was inspired by a story he heard regarding the “real” Lord Ruthven!

Source: “The Vampyre: A Tale” by John William Polidori