|Dracula (Marvel Comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Montesi Files
For a considerable period in Marvel history, there were no vampires - they had all been destroyed through the use of the Montesi Formula, an occult ritual that eliminated all vampires from Earth. The exceptions were weird hybrids or near-vampires, but true vampires like Dracula were gonesville. These days, of course, vampires are returning, but this campaign is set during the days when no vampires walked the earth - in fact, it is set right after the Montesi Formula was used.
In the real world, the comics involving the use of the Montesi Formula were in the 1970s, and setting it then would be fine, and very stylish, but I want to urge another possibility. The game should be set in the late 1980s, as perestroika and glasnost sweep the setting of the campaign, Eastern Europe.
The Vampire Holdings
Dracula in particular but many other vampire princes held mystic castles and evil manor houses throughout Eastern Europe. Although they no longer held the psychotic sway over the peoples of these lands, as they had in centuries past, they still were forces for great evil, and accumulated many mystic artifacts and corrupt followers over the years.
When the Montesi Formula was used by Dr. Stephen Strange to destroy all vampires on Earth, these powerful holdings were up for grabs, and every evil, or even slightly greedy, occultist on Earth came racing for the vampiric treasures that were now without a master.
The characters must stop the terrible threat that these corrupt sorcerers pose. As Gorbachev and the Communist Party reorganize the Soviet bloc and glasnost brings national authority back to Eastern Europe, they are opposed by apparatchiks and conservative communist leaders. So too the characters must keep the dramatic change of the Montesi Formula from being rolled back to replacing one kind of monster with another.
Obviously Dr. Strange himself could be a key character in these events, as could former vampire Hannibal King and half-vampire hunter Blade, but there are many other opportunities for unusual pairings, including characters who might not normally become involved in occult affairs. The Black Widow could see the reform movement as being imperiled by dark magic. The Underground Mutant Safe-System, the Morlocks of the USSR, might also see the battle as being worth fighting. After all, they're about to win recognition (right?)
Original characters might include Soviet or Western spies - perhaps even both, uneasily working together. A local hero might provide needed grounding to foreign "invaders" and protect their homeland. The Soviet bloc had more super-agent, superhuman and super-armor creation programs than you can count - someone from one of those programs might be assigned to handle the situation, then forgotten about as their superiors struggle to keep their jobs.
Events should be structured around the vampire whose absence creates the threat that the heroes must deal with. Was the vampire a mad alchemist whose blood-based concoctions have created super-monsters throughout a swampy lowland? Then the event is about a mystic mind-controller trying to take command of those monsters to seize a nearby missile base. Was the vampire a suave politico using their mental control to command the local apparatchiks? Then the event is about a renegade Soviet general fleeing Gorbachev's ouster and his attempt to seize the vampire's blackmail vault with his armor-wearing goons.
Milestones could be about helping political change, or finding someone or something behind the Iron Curtain. It could be about trying to build East-West relations, or to infiltrate the enemy. It could be about discovering forbidden occult knowledge or destroying demons now loose from their former summoners.