It’s the nature of time that the old ways must give way to the new. But what happens when the old ways are not superstitions? What happens when they’re immortal and very very real?
Szepassony is the “beautiful lady” of Hungarian folklore. She was a spirit of romance, fertility, birth, death, and also storms and rain. Midwives and expectant mothers would pray to her for a safe childbirth, and she was also prayed to in matters of love.
With the dawn of Christianity, Szepassony was reviled as a demon. A temptress who led men astray and caused the deaths of babies that nursed at her breast. If you were out in a rainstorm, caught cold, and died, you had incurred the wrath of the demon Szepassony.
As the years marched on the kindly spirit changed. She became bitter and resentful and lived down to the stories that were told about her. Where once she viewed the people around her as family to be cared for, she now viewed them as prey to fuel her immortal hunger. She was sought out by the vengeful, the angry, and the evil. Erzebet Bathory learned at her feet and her legendary depredations were an attempt to attain the immortal beauty of her mistress.
By the 1890s Vienna is the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A teeming metropolis on the cutting edge of art and science. It also has its shadows. It is here that Szepassony has found a place for herself. One that lets her feed on the most vulnerable of the empire and get paid for it.
The social mores of the gaslight era are particularly hard on unwed mothers. Although medicine has advanced at an astonishing rate, it has not yet allowed for effective birth control. Enter the baby farmer. When a young lady found herself in a position that could damage her reputation her family could find a woman to help care for the child, provide wet nursing, and, for a fee, take it. The fee paid was not enough to provide for the care of the child, and the economics of the situation meant that it was often more profitable if the child died. Since these are unwanted children to begin with, it’s not likely anyone would ask any questions.
Szepassony has set herself up as a midwife and baby farmer in the poor quarters of Vienna. Local families and young women all know they can turn to the kindly, ageless woman in white to help with healing herbs and midwifery. She’s happy to care for any unwanted children and make sure they find a home. For a fee, of course.
Szepassony has no name she goes by in the neighborhood. She’s known simply as “the old lady,” or “the old one.” She appears as an agelessly beautiful woman with long white hair and a twinkle in her eye. She still enjoys rainstorms and has been seen dancing in them. The babies that come into her care and soon disappear are explained away as having been adopted or having died of one of the many childhood diseases of the time. In truth, Szepassony feeds on their blood and discards them.
Szepassony, The Deadly Nursemaid
Attacks per round: 1
Szepassony attacks with fists/ claws, surprising her opponents with her inhuman strength.
Bite: Szepassony may either use her Gaze or a combat maneuver to grab an opponent and drain their blood. She drains 2D10 STR (blood) from the victim each round.
Gaze: Szepassony can cast her gaze on a target. If the target fails an opposed POW roll the target is hypnotized and can be made to follow simple instructions. If these instructions are self-destructive, at the start of a round the target’s player may attempt an INT roll to snap out of it.
Fighting 50% (25/10), damage 1D4 + damage bonus or weapon
Bite 50% (25/10), damage 1D4 + special (see above)
Gaze Hypnotized, see above.
Dodge: 25% (12/5)
Skills: Charm 60%, Human Psychology 60%, Natural World 100%, Track (Scent Blood) 75%, Stealth 70%.
Armor: 0, but can reform after hit points exceeded. See Death, below.
Spells: Alter Weather, Control Elements.
Sanity Loss: 0/1D4 Sanity points to be attacked; 1/1D3 to see her do something unnatural, such as conjure a rainstorm. 0/1D6 to witness her feeding on a baby.
Death: once physical attacks have exceeded her hit points, Szepassony turns into smoke or mist at the end of that round; thereafter, it regenerates hit points at the rate of 1 point per round. If an iron or wooden stake is driven through her heart, Szepassony is killed outright and reduced to ashes—either the stake must be driven in while the vampire sleeps or, if awake, it must first be reduced to zero hit points.
Christian lives in Rhode Island where all this started. He thinks people are much more terrifying monsters than any nameless thing from the stars. He’s one of the hosts of the DMsAfterDark rpg stream.