me, with the living, than he did with theBaron and others of his kind. But, he toldme, he could feel those old patterns of thought slipping away. Soon, he believed,the horror he felt for his condition wouldfade, and he would forget what it was liketo be a mortal. He would become a mon-ster like the Baron!And so Erasmus begged me to savehim from this fate. He begged me to de-stroy him, right then, that very night. Hehad even brought with him a sharpenedwooden stake and a mallet with which topound it through his chest!I doubt that anyone can ever truly un-derstand the torment I suffered. My sonwas dead; in my mind I knew that to betrue. But here he was still, standing beforeme, speaking to me. How could I find thecapacity in my heart to kill him? And howcould I not? How could I damn him to aneternity of torment?For several hours, as the moon sank toward the distant horizon, we talked. We re-lived together the joyous times we hadshared, the poignant memories. We cried to-gether. And then, as the harbinger of dawntinted pink the sky, Erasmus van Richten layhimself down upon the bosom of themeadow and wordlessly handed me thestake and the mallet. Our gazes met for onelast time, then he closed his eyes and com-posed himself as if for sleep.I positioned the point of the stake overmy son’s heart . . . and brought down themallet. With each blow, the agony in myheart could have been no greater if thestake had been sinking into my ownbreast. When it was done, I lay beside thebody of my son and wept again. I weptuntil the first rays of the sun touched hisyoung body and reduced it to ash.It took all the effort of my will to not liedown beside the dust that had been myprecious son and slip into the darkness of death. Only the thought of Ingrid, waitinganxiously at home, prevented me fromtaking my own life. I turned my back onthe horror and bent my steps to the weeks-long journey home.But I found that horror followed me—infact, preceded me. When I reached myhome, I found my beloved Ingrid dead! Therewas a note from Metus, stating that matterswere now in balance. I had taken somethingfrom him that he valued—I can only pre-sume he meant Erasmus—and so he hadtaken from me something that I valued.It was at that moment, as I knelt weep-ing beside the cold, white body of mybeloved Ingrid, that my destiny wasturned. I had always prided myself on myability to rid the body of disease orpoison. Now I knew that this was as noth-ing compared to the importance of rid-ding society of a most evil “disease andpoison.” On that terrible day, I sworemyself to a new career: the pursuit anddestruction of those creatures such as theone that had taken my son and wife fromme, that feed on the body of society as acancer feeds on the body of man. And Iswore that my first quarry would beBaron Metus!It has been almost three decades sincethat fateful day. Over the intervening years,I have learned much about my quarry,about the enemies that threaten us all.Today, I feel my advancing age and Ican sense the chill wind of mortality blow-ing through my soul. It is time to pass onwhat I have learned, so future generationsmay pick up the stake and mallet when Iam forced to lay them down. Thus, I amsetting pen to paper in the hope that thistome will preserve what I have learned atsuch great cost.Remember: The fight against creaturesof darkness is a difficult and often painfulone! But it is a
fight, and one that
be fought. If this work inspires butone person to follow in my footsteps, thenI have succeeded and my life’s work hasnot been for naught.
Editor’s Note: Game applications of Dr.Van Richten’s guide appear at the endof each chapter, in gray-screened text. Forexample, Van Richten discusses the inhu-man speed of vampires in Chapter Two,“Vampiric Powers,” so vampire movementrates appear at the end of that chapterwithin a gray-screened block of text.