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COUNT DRACULA has awakened from centuries of dreamless slumber to enslave humanity and entomb the world in endless night.

As medieval Europe falls to his ravenous armies of undead minions, your heroes— each marked in their own way by the Count’s dark power—join forces for one final, desperate assault on Dracula’s castle, where, powered by the light of the blood moon eclipse, he plans to forge the Nox Aeterna, a mystical artifact of immense alchemical power.

If he succeeds, the world will never see another sunrise.

As fate would have it, tonight is the first blood moon eclipse in a millennium. Your heroes have fought their way through leagues of monster-infested countryside to arrive at the castle gates just as the sun slips beneath the horizon—perhaps for the last time—and the twilight sky bleeds crimson.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO BREACH THE CASTLE’S DEFENSES AND NAVIGATE ITS PROTEAN CORRIDORS?

WHAT ELDRITCH HORRORS AWAIT YOU WITHIN? CAN YOU DESTROY DRACULA ONCE AND FOR ALL?

WHO WILL BE LEFT BY THE END OF THIS QUEST? AND WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM? 

*****

Demon Castle Dracula is a rules-light, dungeon-crawling story game unofficially based on the best vampire video game series of all time. It is designed to be played by one GM and 2-5 players in a single 3- or 4-hour session, but you can play for longer if you wish.

Each player takes on the role of a character marked by Dracula's evil.

This game is played as a series of alternating scenes:

Odd-numbered scenes are Action Scenes; they take place in the present and concern the party’s journey through the castle and into Dracula’s throne room.

Even-numbered scenes are Memory Scenes; they take place in the past and help us fill in the story’s history and setting.

Usually, you will use memory scenes to explore something that came up during the previous scene, but this document contains additional guidance for situations where nothing jumps out during play.

During each scene, the GM tells a story by asking questions of everyone at the table and using the players’ answers to shape the fiction. Whenever fate or fortune come into play, the GM asks the players to roll dice to determine the outcome.

No special materials are required, just a few six-sided dice. There's even an online character keeper to help the GM and players keep track during remote play!

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DemonCastleDraculaFirstEditionFixed.pdf 6 MB

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Played the other night and ended up with a lot of questions, including things mentioned in the book but never defined or explained.


Inflicting 2 wounds vs minions with only 1hp... Is the extra damage is wasted?

What about using the Reapers scythe "vs groups"?

How is area attack intended to work?

Hope do you handle disadvantage when rolling with the Beast die? Roll all 4 dice and then drop the lowest? Or roll 3 normal dice, drop lowest, and then add Beast die to that?

Conditions are never actually explained. They're kind of intuitive for players, but how would they work against enemies? 

Amulet? How does armor work in this game?

How much Blood can you spend on a single roll? Can you spend Blood first to get a +1, roll badly, and then spend Blood for a reroll?

When a player attacks an ally (Beast loses control etc), I assume they roll the Attack move. How much HP loss is each "wound" the attacker inflicts? I assume the defender can use the Dodge move.

Trauma is wildly dangerous, which is ok, but it's VERY unpredictable. Even Minor Trauma will do 5-6 HP damage somewhat regularly. Perhaps change the damage scale (use smaller dice?) or change it to a flat number of Wounds, the same as enemies use.

Thank you playing, and for the questions! I’ve done my best to answer them fully below:

Inflicting 2 wounds vs minions with only 1hp... Is the extra damage is wasted?

It’s up to the GM to determine whether (a) the extra damage or condition carries over to another enemy, (b) the extra damage is “lost,” or (c) the player/PC receives some other appropriate benefit.

What about using the Reapers scythe "vs groups"?

Same principle applies, although in this instance I would almost always transfer the “extra” damage to a monster in the same group.

How is area attack intended to work?

This is super-easy to miss, so I should probably reiterate this on the weapons page, but per p. 24 : “Area attacks and magical burst effects are especially effective against swarms (i.e., the hero rolls with advantage).” So basically “roll with advantage on attacks against swarms,” but also there could be situations where the GM grants some other ad hoc benefit (like extra damage against a group of enemies tightly packed into a hallway or something). 

How do you handle disadvantage when rolling with the Beast die? Roll all 4 dice and then drop the lowest? Or roll 3 normal dice, drop lowest, and then add Beast die to that?

The latter (though it would be drop the *highest* for disadvantage). It might be simpler to think of the Beast Die as a separate mechanic that works independently of the initial dice roll. You just “add +1d6” to appropriate rolls (but watch for the “lose control” condition).

Conditions are never actually explained. They're kind of intuitive for players, but how would they work against enemies?

It can be any hindrance or situational disadvantage. Broken limbs, getting frozen in ice, blinded by bright light, whatever. I usually factor it into (a) what sorts of actions an enemy takes (eg, if a PC opens a crack in the Steam Knight’s boiler, then maybe it can’t use its steam blast attack) (b) advantage/disadvantage against the enemy (eg, giving a PC advantage on their attack against Candelabra Spider bc it has “Condition: limbs bound in rope”). In an earlier version, there were specific conditions with explicit mechanical effects PCs could inflict on enemies, but it just wasn’t worth the complexity.

Amulet? How does armor work in this game?

The Summoner’s Pentacle decreases all damage received by 1. 

How much Blood can you spend on a single roll?

As far as I’m concerned, if you got it, you can spend it! Though a GM can certainly substitute their own ruling for a different vibe or difficulty curve.

Can you spend Blood first to get a +1, roll badly, and then spend Blood for a reroll?

Yup!

When a player attacks an ally (Beast loses control etc), I assume they roll the Attack move. How much HP loss is each "wound" the attacker inflicts? I assume the defender can use the Dodge move.

I treat it as “defender-facing”: the Beast doesn’t roll against the defender, we just assume the Beast is out of control and attacks. Usually, the defender gets a reaction roll, like Dodge (to keep things feeling fair). For the damage, it depends how hard you wanna go. I usually leave it at the default Major Trauma (1d6) but YMMV.

Trauma is wildly dangerous, which is ok, but it's VERY unpredictable. Even Minor Trauma will do 5-6 HP damage somewhat regularly. Perhaps change the damage scale (use smaller dice?) or change it to a flat number of Wounds, the same as enemies use.

It’s intended to be swingy, because I wanted every failed roll to feel dangerous—but feel free to alter to taste!

But that being said, I actually think it *feels* more dangerous than it really is. Outside of Epic Trauma, every PC can take at least one hit, because the max damage is 6 and HP starts at 8. Secondly, dropping to 0HP doesn’t mean a PC dies. They are only “taken out,” so it’s left up to the table’s interpretation of the fiction what being “taken out” means in context. Could be knocked unconscious, get thrown into a nearby pit, or start bleeding out.

I hope those answers help, let me know if any of that didn’t make sense!

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This game is awesome.  I played with 3 people the other night and we all had a blast.  They can't wait to play again.

Hell yeah! Thank you @thecraigedgar!

Just downloaded Escape from demon castle Dracula. Can’t wait to see what the third game will be 🙂

(+1)

This game (as well as Escape from Demon Castle Dracula) is too cool. I want a printed version! 

(+1)

Thank you! I have one more game to finish in my “Trilogy of BLOOD” and then I’ll probably do a campaign to print them in one volume. Stay tuned!

(+3)

Demon Castle Dracula is a fantastic PbtA homage to Castlevania and the action-gothic tradition it spawned from and connects to.

The PDF is 50 pages, with spectacular layout and illustrations. Everything is easy to read, immersive, and it looks good.

The only other PbtA game I know that goes this heavy into replicating Castlevania is Rhapsody Of Blood, so it's worth taking a moment to compare the two. Rhapsody is very much about being a generational game, and the big payoff to its mechanics happens every time you chance generations, whereas Demon Castle is centered on the events surrounding the PCs' attack on castle dracula.

DCD's gameplay is split between the past and the present, focusing both on the heroes in their assault on the castle and in the time leading up to their decision to join forces against Dracula. 

Character creation-wise, there's a good spread of archetypes, backgrounds, and choices that let you customize your PC while still keeping them anchored to the touchstones of the genre.

Mechanics-wise, the normal PbtA mechanics are at play, making this a game that dynamically shifts and reacts around player choices and dice failures. However, you also have a lot of spendable currencies. Blood can be used for rerolls. Coin can be used to generate items. HP is used to absorb the consequences of bad rolls.

There's an overall Doom Clock timing the action of the game, and advancing the clock too quickly can trigger a hard to win variant of the final battle against Dracula. The players can also confront Dracula normally, if they can get to him without running down the clock.

Along the way to D, the players encounter bosses, which are essentially puzzle fights. Dice rolls are still required to bring a boss down, but it won't fall unless the players have also figured out and met its unique defeat condition.

For GM tools, there's a solid bestiary and rules on how to modify it, plus npcs, traps, a map, and a full and very thorough adventure. There's also equipment, pre-gen'd characters, and prompts for the players.

Overall, Demon Castle Dracula feels solid and well-made. If you want to play classic Castlevania as a loose, reactive, story-focused game, this is that and you should get it.


Minor Issues:

-Page 13, Love, "doyou" is missing a space

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I've uploaded a new version of the pdf that fixes the mistakes noticed by @Dimmendark and @Mib5799.

Thanks to both of them!

Thank you for making this!

First off, I am definitely going to run this for a Halloween one-shot this year...so thank you. It definitely gives the right vibes. Secondly, after reading through this I noted a couple of places were pg numbers or other attachments were missing. For instance, you refer to a map on p23, but so far as I've seen there isn't one to give the players or for gm reference. It would be cool to have a map. Another spot is on p19 where it just says start on the Adventure Spine pXX. Guessing that these were just editing errors, but then again I am hoping for a map, lol.

Thanks for the kind words, Dimmendark, and thanks for catching those editing errors!

I'll have to update the version her on itch.io, but in the meantime the Map is on pg 31 and the Adventure Spine is on pg 32.

Ok, I see it now. I must have been blind, lol. Thanks for the response and for your sweet rpg.

Just got the game and this is my feeling after first reading: you got the atmosphere right to do some Castlevania here, no doubt. Great job!
I feel like as a Dungeon World like/light to do some Ravenloft, this would also be awesome. Can't wait to try it.

Thank you, Hybban, I hope you have a KILLER time!

I read this entire thing instantly and can't wait to try it out. One inconsistency I have spotted is that in Character Creation, you put your 3 attributes at 0, +1, +2. But the pregens at the end are all -1, 0, +1 instead.

Thank you for catching that! The pregens should conform to the +0, +1, +2 array. I’ll fix that and upload a new version.


I hope you get to play it soon. Let me know how it goes!

Fabulous! Not sure how soon I'll get to play it, but I really really want to. Next question: where does one find the online character keeper you mention? It's... Very helpful to have these days, when it's a horrible night for a curse

Here you go: https://bit.ly/30B3BuQ

Just copy a new version to your own google drive and you should be able to use it!

You're the best

(+1)

I really enjoyed playing this game!!

If you ever wanted to mount an expedition to and through Dracula's castle, this is a great system!

It's ideal as a few session break between regular games, but could easily be built into a campaign all it's own!

It's easy enough to play for people new to TTRPGs, but also a nice change of pace for experienced gamers.

(+2)

Had the pleasure of playing this game and was blown away by how much fun it was for the amount of setup. Doesn't take long to complete (2-3 hours), but it feels as rich as any other RPG out there.