Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” is among the all-time great Gothic stories, a gorgeously atmospheric tale of predatory desire and deadly obsession. Carmilla herself is among the best-imagined literary vampires, who continues to inspire new works to this day. Here she is brought to beautiful (un)life for use in Ghastly Affair, the Gothic Game of Romantic Horror!
The obsessive lover, and bloodthirsty killer, of lonely young women
Full Name: Mircalla, Countess Karnstein
Aliases: Carmilla, Millarca (her aliases are always anagrams of “Mircalla”)
Class: Everywoman (Aristocrat) / Vampyre
Level: 5 / 10
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A stunningly beautiful young woman with large dark eyes, fine features, thick golden-brown hair, and a slim figure. Her manner is graceful but languid. She has extremely sharp, cat-like fangs that she does her best to avoid showing.
Age: About 20 (apparent)
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 12
Strength: 8 (22 when she uses her Inhuman Strength) Dexterity: 10 Constitution: 8
Assets: Incredibly Beautiful
Speed: 9 (10 in wildcat form)
Hit Points: 60
Attacks: 1 (bite or punch – Carmilla dislikes changing into Vampyric Form to use her claws, but may attack in wildcat form)
Everywoman Special Abilities: Profession (Aristocrat), Avocation (Actress), Affection (Young Women), Inheritance (The ruined village and castle of Karnstein), Social Contacts (A team of servants bound in Dark Devotion who aid in her schemes)
Vampyre Special Abilities: Assume Vampyric Form; Revenant Immunities; Rise From Death; Supernatural Combatant; Vampyric Powers: Hypnotism, Inspire Dark Devotion, Inhuman Strength, Unnatural Charisma, Inflict Love, Transform Self into Cat, Bond With Victim, Create Vampyre, Walk Through Walls, Walk Through Shadows
Everywoman Weaknesses: Phobia (Funerals), Prejudice (Peasants)
Vampyre Weaknesses: Blood-Lust; Vampyric Debilities: Affected by Holy Symbols, Cannot Enter Homes Uninvited, Must Rest in Original Tomb (1 hour per day), Permanent Fangs, Haunted, Hunted, Obsessive Love, Vulnerable to Iron, Vulnerable to Holy Water, Obsessed with Anagrams (can only use aliases that are anagrams of “Mircalla”)
Typical Equipment Carried: A lovely dress. Antique jewelry. A valise (with dresses, chemises, a hand mirror, combs, and other small personal items)
Residence: Her tomb in the deserted village of Karnstein, in Styria (southeast Austria). A household with a lone young woman.
- 1678: Mircalla Karnstein is born in Castle Karnstein in Styria. The Karnsteins are already renowned for their bloodthirsty natures and infamous crimes.
- 1698: Mircalla, Countess Karnstein is killed by a Vampyre in her family castle, and cursed to become one herself.
- 1718: The Village of Karnstein becomes plagued with Vampyres. The Baron Vordenburg, a Demon Hunter who had been living in Moravia, takes it on himself to destroy all the Vampyres of Karnstein. Unfortunately, the Baron had actually been Mircalla’s lover in his youth. Unable to bring himself to destroy her body, he instead destroys the monument over her tomb, and thus obscures the site of her burial. In his old age, however, he becomes overcome with guilt and records the actual location of Mircalla’s tomb for posterity.
- 1798: The village and castle of Karnstein are now completely deserted.
Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Carmilla affects a weak and helpless demeanor to worm her way into households, but if cornered at night, she is a truly fearsome opponent. A favorite scheme is to find an estate or castle housing a beautiful but lonely young woman, and then fake a carriage crash nearby. She will then have one of her servants (masquerading as her mother) beg the owner of household to take Carmilla in as she recuperates. During the day Carmilla moves slowly but gracefully, and speaks as if half-asleep. She can fly into sudden rages, however, if she encounters a funeral, feels a peasant is being insolent, or thinks that someone is about to discover her true nature. While she had a male lover before her death, she now strongly prefers attractive young women as both victims and objects of affection. Carmilla will kill any convenient woman merely to satisfy her hunger, but the one women chosen as her beloved will be showered with affection and grandiose declarations of eternal love by day, even as she become the Vampyre’s prey at night. Carmilla is always being stalked by some Demon Hunter or distraught father, but has so far managed to kill, corrupt, or elude every one. She avoids assuming full Vampyric form, preferring to feed while in the shape of a wildcat. She is very sensitive about her permanent, cat-like fangs, and will try everything within her power to silence anyone who calls attention to them.
Carmilla in Your Game: It is Carmilla’s curse to always the cause of her love’s destruction. A beautiful female True Innocent would be in particular danger from Carmilla, as the Countess could not help falling into deadly love with such a young woman. Despite her need to rest at least an hour a day in her tomb, Carmilla’s ability to Walk Through Shadows means could be encountered in places as far away as Vienna, Venice, Prague, Munich, or Buda. Since she is always being Hunted, PCs who face Carmilla should be able to obtain aid against her. They might come into possession of the original Baron Vordenburg’s papers, or even meet one of the Demon Hunters descended from him! Note that the PCs will most likely be encountering Carmilla before the events described in the eponymous novella (set circa 1848). If they actually destroy her, assume that Le Fanu wrote “Carmilla” based on stories he heard about the PC’s experiences!
Source: “Carmilla” by Sheridan Le Fanu