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Literature / Vault of the Vampire

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Classics never die... sometimes too literally

Vault of the Vampire is the 38th entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Keith Martin.

You are a bold and daring adventurer travelling across the Old World of Titan: in the haunted lands of Mauristania you reach the village of Leverhelven, whose inhabitants are plagued by the presence of a terrible and ancient evil in the shape of Count Reiner Heydrich, a vampire lord. After hearing that he recently kidnapped a young girl from the village and took her to his castle, you decide to help the villagers and rid the world of this monster, facing the dark perils of the Vampire's castle.

The book is a standard, well-written horror adventure: in addition to your usual scores you also have a fourth score, Faith, which can be used to repel certain opponents and acts like a sort of Karma Meter. Of course, you can also get certain Afflictions which may give you maluses or outright cost you your life during your quest. Furthermore, since most of the quest takes part inside the castle, you have a slightly bigger chance of exploration and can, sometimes, revisit certain locations. Martin would later wrote a direct sequel to this story, albeit with a different hero, titled Revenge of the Vampire.


Vault of the Vampire provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The female ranger is more than capable of fighting, though she only accompanies you for a little.
  • Affably Evil: Katarina Heydrich, despite being Reiner's sister, will offer you some food and wine if you stumble into her room, as well as offering help. And also mesmerize you into finding and killing Lothar.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the very final shodown, there are two possible combination of items you must use to slay Reiner, one for staking him and one for the cross symbol. Thankfully, you only need one of each types, no matter which, to proceed.
  • Armor Is Useless: Zigzagged, Siegfrid's Chaimail armor and Crossed Shield aren't completely mandatory to end the book, but they do provide a fine series of bonuses if you pick them up.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Admit it, being attacked by a living Tiger Rug is unusual even for this type of story.
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  • Baleful Polymorph: One of the possible game overs has you turning into a mindless werebeast. You can also get turned into a bat if you're under the Bat's curse and are hit by the Necrotic Jelly.
  • Barrier Warrior: You, possibly, if you manage to learn the Forcewall Spell.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted for once, the only bear you encounter is the Ranger's companion, and will attack you only in self defense.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Too bad for you, she's a Baobhan Sith, waiting for some sucker to fall for her trap.
  • Big Bad: The lord of the castle, the Vampire Count Reiner Heydrich, whose tyranny plagues the region.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: It eventually appears that Reiner's sister Katarina is as much of a threat to you and to the country, and serves as the True Final Boss.
  • Blob Monster: Doctor Faustus' remains take the form of a disgustingly creepy Necrotic Jelly, which holds his rotten visage in its mass. It can worsen any Affliction you may have if it lands a hit on you, making it a dangerous foe.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Averted with Nastassia: If you lose too many Stamina points fighting Katarina, she will grab a dagger and fight by your side, giving you a boost.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • The heroic paragon of virtue that was Siegfrid Heydrich compared to his utterly evil brother Reiner
    • Katarina the evil and haughty witch compared to the humble and generous healer Gunthar.
  • Cool Sword: You can find a Magic Sword in at least two locations, which allows you to fight against certain undead enemies. There's also Siegfrid own sword "Nightstar", which was hidden away inside the Book of Swords and is the best weapon you can obtain.
  • Charm Person: Katarina will seduce your character into becoming her personal killer to assassinate Lothar the Castellan.
  • Chaste Hero: For once, subverted, you are clearly mesmerized and seduced by Katarina if you enter her room and you can kiss the sleeping Baobhan Sith on the lips to awaken her.
  • Classical Movie Vampire : Count Reiner Heydrich is clearly an hommage to Hammer movies and the like, complete with Villainous Widow's Peak, fancy clothes and black cape with High Collar of Doom. He has most of the powers and weaknesses associated with Vampires, including Hypnotic Eyes, domain over wolves and beasts, Super Strength, Voluntary Shapeshifting into a wolf, a bat or Super Smoke mist. When it comes to weaknesses, he is highly vulnerable to Holy Water, he has a Missing Reflection, he Cannot Cross Running Water, he cannot stand garlic, and he must be staked to be fully destroyed... Long story short, he fulfills pretty much the entire list of Vampire Tropes.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Wilhelm Heydrich is an insane, talkative loony who may be friendly to you or attack you on sight with his cavalry saber, but is not evil. That being said, you're not penalized if you kill him in self-defense.
  • Cool Sword: Nightstar, if you manage to find it. It gives an attack strength bonus in all combats, is magical so you can fight enemies immune to normal weapons and against Reiner it gives a double attack strength bonus and can also be used to stake him once you've put him down, assuming you've destroyed enough of his coffins.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Snivel the Gnome ferryman is actually a thrall of Count Heydrich, and likely to backstab you if the Ranger is not with you.
  • Distressed Damsel: Nastassia, the girl from the village Reiner kidnapped and locked in the Crypt. There's a twist though, he was preparing to give her to Katarina, instead of draining her blood like he does to most of his captives.
  • Early-Bird Boss: One can pick a fight with Katarina as soon as you meet her early on; either through deliberately attacking or mentioning that you want to save the girl. It requires a magic sword and hitting her 4 times. (she has no HP indicator) and then she vanishes after a last ditch effort of Charm Person; implying you were Fighting a Shadow.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Katarina will be openly delighted if you admit that you're here to slay her brother.
  • Expy: Count Reiner Heydrich is essentially Dracula transposed on the world of Titan. The sequel's art cover even depicts him wearing Bela Lugosi's outfit, from the movie adaptation of the thirties.
  • Eye Beams: Both Thassallos(es?) can shoot damaging green rays of sheer cold from their eyes.
  • Final Boss: Count Reiner's Heydrich: Far and away the mightiest and deadliest foe ever faced in the story, with 13 in skill and 21 in stamina. But he is only this if you failed to get the Golden Ending.
  • Gamebook Cruelty Punishment: In this game you're given the chance of attacking and killing helpful people such as the forester, Lothar the Castellan and Gunthar the Healer, but you are penalized if you do this. (In the case of Wilhelm, if he is insane when you come across him and he attacks you, you will not be penalized, but if he was lucid and/or you made the first attack, you do get penalized.)
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: When Reiner's heath drop below a certain point he will turn into a bat and try to run away to catch his breath and heal himself. You can prevent him from doing this with the Force wall spell.
  • Ghostly Advisor: Siegfrid, Reiner's good brother, will appear as a ghost to help you in your quest.
  • Golem: A Wooden Golem pretending to be a statue in the Count's artroom. It even resembles the iconic Golem from the Paul Wegener silent films (instead of the usual featureless elemental brutes).
  • Hellish Horse: The stables include wolves and a demonic fire-breathing steed which is stated to be Reiner's favourite horse.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The spell Jandor's Bolt casts a brilliant bolt of light that deals damage to the undead. You can also find some Holy Water you can use.
  • Ignored Enemy: At the very beginning, the Count's headless coachman comes to Leverhelven to take you to the castle. You can accept but you can as well act as he's not there and asks the villagers for another path to the castle.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: In another case of Anti-Frustration Features, if you failed to find the Nightstar sword, Siegfrid reveals you the location of another Magic Sword in the Crypt which will allow you to fight against Reiner.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Siegfrid's sword "Nightstar" gives you a even bigger bonus than a Magic Sword and can wound and kill Reiner. It is sealed inside the Book of Swords and only Siegfrid's ghost can release it.
  • It Only Works Once: When Katarina appears in the finale, if you were seduced by her once you remember her methods and resist her second attempt, which means you can attack first and wound her.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: In the Count's chambers you're attacked by a massive Horned Bat and a small, blood-sucking weasel. You can only attack the Bat and when you kill it the weasel runs away.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: Siegfrid was one back when he was alive, and you can possibly follow his steps, egregiously so if you recovered all his equipment.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: Inside the castle, some rooms include a monster guarding something useful. Including a Wraith, a Ghoul and a dangerous Baobhan Sith in the Tower where Siegfrid's Shield is held, the Lesser Thassallos guarding Siegfrid's Chainmail, the powerful Specter guardian of Reiner's personal coffin and the very dangerous Major Thassallos guarding the way into the deeper levels of the Crypt.
  • Mad Scientist: Doktor Faustus was highly implied to be one in life, and somehow manage to turn his carcass into a nightmarish Necrotic Jelly.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Both Reiner and Katarina Heydrich live in lavish quarters, surrounded with works of art.
  • The Medic: Gunthar the Healer, who can help you with any Afflictions you may have, expecially if you give him back the Book of Healing stolen by the Count.
  • Missing Reflection: Being a Vampire, Reiner casts no reflection and will be weakened if exposed to a Silver Mirror. Averted with Katarina, who's not a vampire.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Katarina Heydrich unless her real age is revealed and the Baobhan Sith are both enthralling pale beauties.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Thassallos (either Lesser or Major) is a massive, four-armed undead skeleton wielding a scythe and shooting green Eye Beams from its eyesockets.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Exaggerated in the case of Count Reiner Heydrich, if you take a look into an encyclopedia under the entry of Reinhard Heydrich, who he shares almost the same name with. Count Heydrich is a villainous character but of course no comparision to his namesake. Played straight with Siegfried and Katharina Heydrich, who "only" share the surname (bad enough).
  • Nice Guy: Lothar the Castellan is the most helpful and corteous person you come across in the castle. Gunthar Heydrich as well, though he is understandably afraid of his evil siblings and hesitant to help. Finally, Wilhelm Heydrich can be this, but only in a good day.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Most of the Count's servants are undead, with Zombies serving as standard guardsmen and servants.
  • No-Sell: If you try to attack the Headless Coachman, your sword will phase harmlessly through him, which makes you lose a Faith point. Many of the castle's monsters are only vulnerable to a Magic Sword. In the final battle, Katarina laughs off your Jandor's Bolt and your Holy Water since she's not an undead.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Two of them near the end: if you failed to destroy enough coffins, the Count will escape you upon defeat, leaving you with no way to know where he is going to reform. If you did destroy the coffins, but lack the means to stake the Count, you'll have no choice but to leave the castle with Nastassia alive but the evil still at large.
  • Older Than He Looks: Believe it or not, but Katarina is well over seventy years old. She uses Blood Magic to retain her youth and beauty, and plans to sacrifice Nastassia for it.
  • Only in It for the Money: The Sage is perfectly willing to reveal you everything he knows about the castle and his masters for a small price.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: A Huge Ghoul inhabits a room in the mansion's tower and can be repelled with enough Faith. A second, festering Ghoul hides in the Crypt and cannot be repelled.
  • Permanently Missable Content: "Nighstar", if you give Katarina the Book of Swords.
  • Plot Coupon: You'll need a Magic Sword to survive most enemies and also the Crypt's keyes and the items required to stake the Count for good (a Silver-plated Stake or Nightstar along with either a Cross or Siegfrid's Shield).
  • Rapid Aging: Katarina Heydrich upon her defeat.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: A huge one the size of a dog, called a Great Rat, attacks you in the castle.
  • Savage Wolves: Ferocious wolves are found in the Castle's stables, and Werewolves roam the forest.
  • Schmuck Bait: Did you really thought that you could find red wine and edible biscuits in a Vampire's castle? Averted with the white wine though, it's very good.
  • Series Continuity Error / The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The book explicitly states that it's not possible to kill Count Heydrich without a Magic Sword, making it an instant lose condition if the player doesn't bring one along. However, if the player uses the right items and rolls the best possible scores, the Count can be killed without a magic sword (the Count has a fixed level of HP and the player can deduct it well below zero before the actual fight starts). Then the player only needs a stake to finish him off in the coffin.
  • Shout-Out: Possibly a coincidence, but your death at the hands of the Sage (he summons a Dragon's head from a Crystal Ball to burn you to a crisp) recalls the first cover of the first book of the series, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: You must aquire a special Silver-plated Stake to kill Reiner permanently.
  • Skippable Boss: It is possible to use the newly-aquired spells to deal with the Major Thassallos.
  • The Starscream: Katarina is perfectly content living in luxury in the castle, in pretty good terms with her brother, but she would gladly seize any opportunity to have him killed, so that she can claim the title of countess.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Highly implied with Reiner with a journal you can find in the library: the concerns of his grandfather over the rumors of Reiner's vampirism are interrupted by his writing where he claims to have finally reached this "blessed" state of existance.
  • True Final Boss: Katarina Heydrich, showing up after you kill her brother, to get rid of you and claim the title of Countess.
  • Turns Red: Unusual example, Reiner will grow more feral and try to bite your throat when his Stamina is closer to 0. It's an instant death if he manages to score two hits.
  • Turn Undead: Some of the undead monsters you come across can be repelled by you if your Faith is strong enough. Zigzagged with the Huge Ghoul: you can turn him back with Faith, but he will fight back if you attack him.
  • Vain Sorceress: Katarina Heydrich is vain, beautiful and flirtatious, and she uses the female victims of her brother to fuel her youth and unnaturally long life.
  • The Vamp: Both Katarina Heydrich and the skippable Baobhan Sith will try to mesmerize the hero with their beauty.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Katarina is drop dead gorgeous. Averted with Reiner, who is noted to have been very handsome as a human, but of course lost much of his beauty after becoming a vampire.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: The Forester can give you some Garlic that comes in handy when Reiner tries to bite you.
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: The vampire you are hunting, Count Reiner Heydrich, keeps several coffins in various locations around his castle. A major part of the quest is destroying them so he does not have anywhere else to flee to but the nearest coffin during the final battle.
  • Wooden Stake: Of course, you can use one to finish Reiner off, but the one you need has a silver-plated point. For some reason it's changed into a Silver Dagger in the Italian translation of the book. You can also use Nightstar this way if you lack the Stake.