Take a classic western movie with its wasteland and frontier towns, cross it with some old school vampire films, and add a pinch of sci-fi and you’ll get Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D (VHD).
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The lonesome epic of D has been told through books, comics, and anime films, but one piece of the story has gone unpublished: Message from Mars. The short story is now being adapted into a multi-volume comic book series via Kickstarter by Stranger Comics.
The Kickstarter is pretty awesome all by itself, but the stretch goal really caught my eye: A Pathfinder supplement for Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars! I have dreamt about playing in a VHD roleplaying game for years and now Pathfinder is finally giving us the chance! To get some more details on this exciting supplement, I spoke with F. Wesley Schneider, Editor-in-Chief of Paizo Inc.
Could you tell me a bit more about the supplement? What can fans expect to see in it?
Wes Schneider: Well some of that depends on how the Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars Kickstarter wraps up. The campaign’s still going on and if it keeps blasting through stretch goals (and if fans seem interested in the material) I suppose there’s potential for the Pathfinder supplement to get some more love. Regardless of how things wrap up, though, I’m planning to make the Pathfinder Vampire Hunter D accessory a pretty rulesy supplement.
For details about D’s world, you’ve got the comic, the anime, the novels, and countless other sources. For Pathfinder interpretations, though, you’re going to have pretty much just this accessory. So I’m treating it like it’s Pathfinder’s only chance to play with this material—as it very well may be.
While the comic features some totally terrifying new types of vampires, and I absolutely want to get them in there, I can’t say how many hundreds of Pathfinder characters take inspiration from D. Even Larsa, the main character from my novel, Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound, is a half-vampire with a flair for stylish hats. A lot of that sort of hero worship comes from the widespread popularity of Vampire Hunter D.
More than that, though, characters like D, Solomon Kain, Van Helsing, Blade, and others have influenced what being a vampire hunter means in dark fantasy stories. Pathfinder spends a lot of time playing with themes and derivations, elements that are like this or that hero or monster, but in this rare case, we get to actually play with the source material. To that end, I want to get as much D to Pathfinder players as possible. So that’s going to mean lots of specific character options; feats, dhampir race traits, bloodlines, archetypes (at least one for our own hunter class), and the like. It’s also going to mean a considerable amount of new design, since you can’t do a rulebook on Vampire Hunter D without opening the door for having your own endlessly critical Left Hand.
Particulars aside, my goal is to make sure that all those Vampire Hunter D inspired Pathfinder players out there finally have everything they need to play how they’ve always wanted.
The Kickstarter page says you are a fan of the Vampire Hunter D series. How did you get into it?
To get weirdly specific: The Sci-Fi Channel’s Saturday Anime series in 1995. There was a summer where on nearly back-to- back Saturdays I saw Akira, Casshan, Dominion Tank Police, Memories, Robot Carnival, and on and on. But the one that stood above them all was Vampire Hunter D.
While so much in anime was completely alien to me as a ’90s kid, Vampire Hunter D was especially fascinating, beautiful, and bizarre. That it almost intersected with the Western fantasy I was reading as a teenager was a big part of that. Mostly, though, I fell in love with the anime’s relentless vision of dark fantasy that neither held back nor cared to explain itself. Why did D have a sentient, parasitic hand? How had he become this singular hunter? What was the story with all the awesome but nameless background monsters? Dozens of questions like that came from even my first watching, but what I came to learn was that there simply weren’t answers to most of them. Not just not in the U.S., but not at all. Author Hideyuki Kikuchi had left so much about D and his world purposefully mysterious. That was probably my first real brush with how powerful mystique can be to a story and I was absolutely hooked.
Do you foresee more VHD rpg stuff being written in the future (like perhaps a whole book)?
Scott McLean from Unified Pictures and Paizo’s Publisher, Erik Mona, have been teasing out how our companies might work together for a while. It’s beyond exciting that the Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars Kickstarter had a place for the Pathfinder supplement, and that those guys were kind enough to let me tag along to write it. But what’s next? Well, the Kickstarter recently expanded with some really incredible new stretch goals. That’s usually a pretty decent mark that things are going well. If the campaign’s a big success and folks like the Pathfinder elements, who knows where things might go!
Thanks again Wesley for giving us a deeper look at the upcoming Pathfinder supplement! I can’t wait to try it. You can find Wesley on Twitter at