It’s time once again for another installment of Things We Left Out of The Dracula Dossier, our popular series of posts not so much cataloguing our mental lapses as offering you, our beloved gamer audience, more free content for your own Dracula Dossier games! (Available for pre-order now!)
In this particular case, I was inspired by something that keeps appearing in the (vast quantity of) Dracula movies I’m watching right now while posting 31 Nights of Dractober and writing The Thrill of Dracula: Dracula’s ring. It first makes an appearance in Son of Dracula (1943) but first plays a major role in the plot in The House of Frankenstein (1944), where John Carradine’s Dracula uses it to mesmerize the fetching Rita and connect her to him in some nebulous fashion. (Dracula’s Daughter (1936) also features a hypnotic ring very similar in appearance to Carradine’s.) Carradine wore it again in House of Dracula (1945) and it finally made its way to Bela Lugosi’s finger in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Lugosi kept the prop and later gave it to superfan Forrest Ackerman, who (of course) made and sold collectible versions of it. He sent one of those copies to Christopher Lee, who wore it in Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) and afterward. Lee’s Dracula wore a (different) signet ring in the previous two Dracula films, and the Ring has become such an icon that a whole Danish 1978 TV miniseries (sadly not available any more) called Draculas Ring focused on it.
So here it is, written up as a Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook style encounter.
Object: The Ring of Dracula
Appearance: A man’s silver finger ring with a blood-red ruby set into it, bearing the crest of Dracula (DH, p. 54) in worked silver filigree. Lengthy heraldic research (1-point History or 2-point Research spend each month for three months, or per archive in two separate major heraldic archives) can uncover Dracula’s original identity in life from the crest, or at least discover the crest’s origin. The design and workmanship are 15th-century German. Forgery or a 1-point spend of Chemistry unmasks the “silver” as paktong or “nickel silver,” a Chinese silver-like alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc.
Supposed History: This was the signet ring of Dracula in life, and imbued with its wearer’s life force — and afterward, with the force of his Un-Death. The fact that an aristocratic signet ring is not real silver is, ironically, evidence for its authenticity — surely Dracula would not seek out the touch of silver to his flesh! Vampirology reminds us that Dracula has no particular allergy to silver, but a 15th-century alchemist like Dracula might well have prized the comparatively rare paktong — or created his own similar alloy with its own properties.
Major Item: This is the ring of Dracula, alchemically created by him from earths dug from his native soil, the ruby formed from his very blood. It cannot be destroyed by any known process short of nuclear fission or throwing it into an active volcano. Its powers vary depending on its wearer.
If Dracula wears it:
- It contains a pool of 13 extra Aberrance points, which he can spend at will; they refresh at sundown.
- It increases the Difficulty of resistance to Dracula’s Mesmerism by +4 if the target is looking at it. Dracula can create and direct the visions beheld in it by the target.
- It provides Cloud Men’s Minds as a free power (Difficulty 10 Stability test to penetrate).
- It doubles the effect of a Red Room (DH, p. 187).
- It automatically places any vampire or Renfield who beholds it under Dracula’s command.
If another vampire wears it:
- As Dracula, but half: 6 extra Aberrance, +2 Difficulty to resist Mesmerism, Cloud Men’s Minds as a 2 Aberrance point power (Difficulty 6 Stability test to penetrate).
- Dracula can see or hear through their senses at all times. Likewise, that vampire can sense the direction and rough distance to Dracula.
- If Dracula created or sired the wearer, Dracula can command the wearer telepathically.
If a human wears it:
- It grants the power of Mesmerism, with a rating equal to 5 + the wearer’s Hypnosis ability. Using Mesmerism always requires a 2-point spend.
- If the human takes Seward Serum, it increases the General point bonus to 17, not 12.
- It increases the effect of a Red Room: attempts to locate Dracula are at -7, sweats Renfields in 6 hours, provides 25 points to a Jack, lowers magic Difficulties by -4 (DH, p. 187).
- Dracula can see or hear through their senses at all times; their Difficulty to resist him increases by +4. Likewise, they can sense the direction and very rough distance (here/close/far/far away) to Dracula. Alternately, a psychically gifted human (or one with Dowsing as a paranormal ability; NBA, p. 196) can use the ring as a pendulum to find Dracula’s location on a map (like the one on the Spirit Board; DH, p. 279); it lowers the Difficulty for Remote Viewing (NBA, p. 197) of Dracula by -4.
If it’s been stolen, Dracula will move heaven and earth, and kill any number of interfering mortals, to return it to his finger. So … great way to lure him into an ambush, amirite?
Minor Item: This is the ring of Dracula, or one of them at any rate. All members of the Conspiracy recognize it and will (absent other conditions like being attacked) obey its wearer with an Intimidation spend … until word gets out that a signet ring has gone missing somehow. Worn by Dracula, it increases the Difficulty to resist his Mesmerism by +2.
If stolen, Dracula wants it back, badly enough to give the thief his personal sadistic attention or to send a pack of ghouls after it, but not badly enough to do something foolish.
Fraudulent: This is a movie prop. A 2-point Forgery spend can fake up a provenance (either as a collectible or as a supposed antique) that makes it worth $20,000 or so to the right buyer. Offering it at Sotheby’s (DH, p. 198) might still be an interesting way to ping the Conspiracy network (or Edom) and see who answers.
Connections: If it’s not on Dracula’s finger, it might be buried near his Tomb (DH, p. 308) or gathering dust in his Castle (DH, p. 207). Perhaps Van Helsing or Lord Godalming picked it out of Dracula’s ashes in 1894 and a Legacy has it now. If Edom managed to find it then, or in Romania in 1940, it’s kept in a tin-silver-and-aluminium-lined, magnetically and electrically inert, cross-incised rosewood box at Ring (DH, p. 172) or Seward’s Asylum (DH, p. 195). Only during an ongoing tactical operation requiring it does Edom move it to Carfax (DH, p. 185); intercepting that shipment would make a fine operation for the Agents. Or perhaps Van Sloan (DH, p. 87) kept it himself, and it keeps him alive … for just a small cost in blood. (Edom might also have kept the Minor Item signet ring Dracula sent to Hawkins in 1893, or it might be somewhere in Hawkins’ house in Exeter (DH, p. 167).) The Romanian government might have confiscated it in 1946; perhaps it’s in a Museum (DH, p. 215) or a deep SRI warehouse beneath Pitesti Prison (DH, p. 218). The Medievalist (DH, p. 122), Art Forecaster (DH, p. 103), and Bookseller (DH, p. 106) all covet it and could produce surprising sums to purchase it, as of course would the Extraordinary Objects Department (DH, p. 161) or the Caldwell Foundation (DH, p. 160); a sketch of it might appear in John Dee’s Journal (DH, p. 270).
Wherever it turns up, does it want to return to its Master? If only there were some sprawling epic about a Ring of Power and a Dark Lord to model that story line on, ideally one connected somehow to Christopher Lee …