New Monster: The Dearghdul
Hillsthwaite Daemonic Catalogue #001.I.c: Vampyrus sanguisuga celtioccultus

The so-called 'hidden Celtic vampire,' or dearghdul (pronounced roughly as 'dare-duel'), is a particularly terrifying variant upon the far more common Vampyrus sanguisuga vulgaris, free of many of its more widespread cousin's particular burdens and imbued with greater abilities in many respects. It is more difficult to identify and harder still to kill with any finality, and may all too easily rise again to menace the unwary. Fortunately, its viciousness and natural abilities are counterbalanced by its rarity. Once found in some frequency on the British Isles and in formerly Celtic versions of mainland Europe, the dearghdul is now largely found only within the badly distorted legends and folklore of these regions. In fact, some scholars now believe the species to be extinct, though it is likely that a few specimens have survived and simply managed to go into hiding. As ever, the seasoned vampire hunter must remain ever vigilant, for legend can all too easily transform into cold reality.

Where such species as the Turok-Han are to the common vampire what a Neanderthal might be to the modern human, the dearghdul might be seen as the product of a superior branch upon the evolutionary tree, a species that, in its basic capabilities, has surpassed the original race that gave it birth. Indeed, were it not for the fact that the species now appears to be dying out, it might almost be classified as Vampyrus sanguisuga superior, the next step in vampiric evolution. Every last one seems to be cultured, attractive, and smoothly deceitful, mindful of human customs and able to blend smoothly into mortal society, while carrying a core of ruthlessness and true evil that makes the dearghdul even more dangerous than those who slaughter mindlessly. It also frequently works to the dearghdul's advantage that they are widely considered to be a myth, or a wholly extinct subspecies; even seasoned, respected Watchers sometimes seem inclined to dismiss tales of encounters with these creatures as flights of fancy, the ravings of madmen, or badly distorted accounts that actually describe nothing more unusual than an encounter with a master vampire. The sheer existence of the dearghdul should serve as a lesson to would-be naysayers that there frequently turn out to be more things in heaven and in Earth than are dreamt of in any philosophy.

The dearghdul is a highly attractive, social creature, adept at masking its foul appetites and endearing itself to all whom it encounters. The creatures are possessed somehow of a cold, alluring beauty, a quiet grace and improved complexion and visage that effectively grant them two free levels of the Attractiveness Quality. Though homely dearghduls would not be unheard of, most are somewhat inhumanly beautiful. Even their demonic visage is attractive, closely resembling their human face, but with the addition of small, easily concealed fangs and uniformly ice-blue eyes that offer a glimpse into their cold, dead hearts. The unsettling effect of this subtle shift is enhanced by a supernatural aura of terror - any who glimpse a dearghdul in its higher form must make a Fear Test with a -5 penalty, even if they possess the Nerves of Steel Quality (though such persons still gain their +4 bonus, reducing the net penalty to -1). Some dearghdul have also been known to successfully draw upon this aura of terror while still in their completely human form, creating a sort of 'death stare' that can chill even the most seasoned veterans of the supernatural to the bone.

At the same time, the dearghdul is a vicious and utterly evil being, even more so than the common vampire. All dearghduls automatically gain the Drawbacks Mental Problems (Severe Cruelty) and Antisocial Impulses (Deceit) 4. Lies and remorseless torment are a part of a dearghdul's very nature, so much so that there is no such thing as an ensouled dearghdul: all of the known spells used to restore a vampire's soul fail when used upon these creatures, and no one has ever successfully returned a dearghdul to its human form.

All dearghduls must, for some unknown reason, drink blood directly from the heart of their victims, typically biting into a given victim's breast in order to reach the muscle in question. Additionally, because their condition is so virulent, dearghduls must consume their victims' hearts once the blood is drained - for anyone whose heart is so touched by a dearghdul, whether they are drained of blood or not, whether they are actually slain or not, will rise themselves as a dearghdul by the next full moon, so long as their heart remains physically intact until that time.

Dearghduls are, of course, immortal, as ordinary vampires are; however, they are slightly tougher, receiving +3 bonuses to their Strength and Dexterity, and a +2 bonus to their Constitution, as well as 5 levels of Hard to Kill (and the option of purchasing five more). They also regenerate a number of Life Points equal to their Constitution every hour, and their senses are enhanced, giving them a +2 bonus to their hearing and smell (which expands to +4 when used to smell blood).

As might be expected, dearghduls also share many of the vulnerabilities associated with vampires - they may be slain through immolation, exposure to sunlight, beheading, or the ever-popular stake through the heart. However, they lack the base aversion to crosses - instead, dearghduls can only be repelled and harmed by objects that have been specifically consecrated against evil. A simple cross-shape is not enough; the object must have been blessed by the appropriate authorities.

Additionally, the slaying of a dearghdul is no simple matter. Unless immolated, the dearghdul will leave a full skeleton behind; whether ashes, bones or fragments, no matter how small or shattered the remains, they must be buried beneath a cairn of individually consecrated stones, each at least the size of a child's fist, or the dearghdul's body will be reconstituted and it will rise again at sunset on the night just before the full moon. Following its resurrection, the dearghdul will have three nights to consume a fresh human heart - if prevented from doing so, it will also be effectively slain forever, but obviously the cairn represents the easier method.

Lastly, dearghduls also have access to other abilities common to vampire lore, including Hypnosis and Emotional Influence. They may also purchase (for four additional points on top of the total Quality cost) a limited shapeshifting ability which gives them one alternate form associated with the night or with evil, such as a bat, wolf, or serpent - the actual range of choices is defined only by the Director. Each dearghdul with this ability can transform into only one such animal, with the same characteristics and distinctive markings each time, and they may only do so when outside beneath the night sky. When transformed, the dearghdul possesses only the typical physical abilities and characteristics of the animal it has become, but retains its mental faculties. Dearghduls with this ability can switch between their human and animal forms at will so long as the aforementioned conditions are met.

All told, the basic dearghdul package costs 20 points, though it's not recommended for any player characters in most games. Unlike ordinary vampires, dearghduls really cannot redeem themselves or become at all 'good'; it goes against their natures. The most one could hope for would be enlightened self-interest, and even those dearghduls who did, for whatever reason, work with the good guys would still have their dark appetites, cold demeanors and tendency toward casual cruelty to contend with.