Game Central The gaming world of K. Fields

In the summer of 1997, my friends and I were eager to return to Dungeons & Dragons after not having played for some time. In addition to our core players of Erik, Mary, and Jeff (last names omitted for privacy), we recruited some new players to join us. Two couples added fresh blood to our gaming group: Mike & Lynn and Ed & Mary. One former club member, Todd, had moved out of state but asked to have a character rolled up for him.

I decided to use Night of the Vampire as the introductory adventure for our campaign. It took place in the Mystara setting and seemed appropriate for those who had never played D&D before. It was also the first TSR audio CD adventure I ever purchased. That added a new dimension to the gameplay.

The back of the box described the plot:
You are cordially invited to a masquerade celebrating the engagement of Lady Laina Vandevie to Lord Iajo Moubotka. Lord Gustav Vandevic welcomes you to his manor for an evening's entertainment. The servants are delighted to make your acquaintance - but watch out for the other guests! Intrigues within intrigues are afoot in Vandevicony Manor. When a celebration becomes a night of terror, only the most cunning heroes will survive.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the character sheets. They may have been lost in the flood of 2011. However, I found several old e-mails that described elements of the campaign. Below are the character descriptions from my original e-mails.

Keldar (Human Fighter) - The party's toughest fighter with a 16 strength and 5
hp. [Todd]

Medusa (Dwarven Fighter) - A hearty dwarven woman that uses the axe as her
preferred weapon (battle axe, hand axe, and throwing axe). Only 3 hp, though.
Not the most attractive character as you would guess by her nickname. [Lynn]

Leris (Half-elven Fighter/Mage) - A tall (6'), slender half-elf that seems to have
more human than elven traits. He chooses the broadsword over the long sword
and also uses the spear and hand axe. He has 5 hp and a decent complement
of spells (charm person, spider climb, detect magic). [Erik]

Maloki (Elven Cleric) - Maloki is a priest of Corellon Larethian. He is very wise
(wisdom 15) but not very bright (intelligence 8). Hp: 2. [Jeff]

Arcindio (Human Mage) - A lawful good magic-user with decent hit points (3).
His primary offensive spell is Sleep. Arcindio wields a quarter staff when forced
into melee. [Mike]

Macinda (Human Bard) - An extremely tall (6'3") and attractive young woman
of but 16 years of age. She is smart (I 15), agile (D 15), and quite charismatic
(Ch 15). A natural for party spokesperson given the rather dull nature of the
rest of the group. She plays the lute and does not prefer to fight, although she is
trained with the spear. Only 1 hp. [Mary #1]

Cinosanap (Half-elven Fighter/Thief) - Finally the party has a thief! He has good
abilities (16 strength, 16 dexterity, 15 constitution) but still fits in with the
party's low hit point rolls (only 3 hp). [Ed]

Maria (Human Magic-User) - Can you believe it? Another magic user. This
party is heavy on wizards, which is good considering you usually need backups
when they start to die. She also has good abilities (16 intelligence, 16 wisdom,
15 strength). Spells are burning hands, shield, message, and of course read
magic. [Mary #2]

We started the adventure on August 22, 1997. The sound effects and background audio on the CD added some nice ambience. Character dialog was a different matter. A lot of what I would normally read and improvise was played from the CD. Even worse, some of the players' reactions were pre-recorded. That occasionally produced responses that were completely out of place, given the situation.

On the first night of play, there were only two battles. Nobody died but Maloki, the party's priest, ended up in a coma. Things came crashing to a deadly conclusion the following week at our next gaming session. This low level party tried to do battle with a vampire. Needless to say, it did not end well. The most memorable highlight came during combat when Arcindio ran around the room trying to throw flaming drapes onto the vampire.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of Night of the Vampire was a rekindled interest in D&D for our gaming group. Shortly afterwards, we began Night Below, one of our most successful campaigns.