So last week I put some some Magic card based on some monsters I made up called the Edere Vir. Well, not monsters. Monsters in the sense that anything from White Wolf's World of Darkness is a monster.
The Edere Vir are based on a very simple idea. You ever hear something on the other side of a glass door, look over, and see nothing? The Edere Vir are based on the monster that's invisible until you open the door to see what's out there.
It was just a little concept until Terry ran a mixed supernaturals, classic World of Darkness campaign. I wanted to use the Edere Vir. Good monsters represent parts of the human psyche. Werewolves are our primal instincts. Ghosts are the summation of our deeds undone and wrongs unavenged. Vampires move around a lot, but they're done everything from repressed sexual desires to the thin, empty veneer of civilization to doing the whole "mutant and proud" message True Blood tried for.
Ambition was my hook. Ambition cannibals. A regular human who eats others to advance themselves. It overlaps a bit with vampires, but I'd argue that cannibalism is usually exclusive with the victim surviving and therefore non-communicable. Vampires are also spread thinly enough that they can stand having some of their domain carved out.
So what does their glass trick tell us? Glass isn't usually naturally occurring, so their powers interact with man-made materials. They can affect people's vision or the medium through which they look. They have some use for stealth and the element of surprise. Possessing some faculty with deception would go hand-in-hand with being a cannibal.
Monsters have rules so Edere Vir can only vanish behind glass and they can only do it sometimes. I am falling back a bit on the World of Darkness here, but the link with ambition and cannibalism is that the body parts they eat fuel their supernatural abilities that make them successful. It makes sense that different body parts would give them different abilities. From all of that we can assume that Edere Vir can only use their invisibility trick if they've eaten someone's eyes recently.
Is it the artificial nature of the glass that makes it work, or will any clear medium do? Could one, say, vanish into a river or turn it around and appear as a mirage on the horizon? I prefer the artificiality angle. It links the ambition with "progress." I mean, life wasn't perfect before birth control and vaccinations, but I like the "modern society as a source of pressure which dehumanizes the very humans it was constructed to serve" angle.
It also lets me riff on other powers. Technology plus requisite body part go! Faked voices over the phone (tongue). Using non-lethal weapons as lethal weapons and non-weapons as non-lethal weapons (bones). Stealing passwords, safe combinations, or phone numbers with muscle memory (fingers or hands). Listening in on radio transmissions or through sound pickups that aren't activated (ears). Appearing normal on medical tests or scans (digestive tract organs).
Okay, okay. Those work well in a modern setting, but I want to use these guys in D&D too. No glass doors in D&D. What's "technology" in D&D? What's "ambition"? I would say "magic items and levels, respectively," but that's too on-the-nose. That Edere Vir can be used for intra-party conflicts is great, but it's not their main focus.
At the lower levels they're a fallen human living in the wild amidst monsters (scent of inhumanity), preying on travelers to feed their...bandit lifestyle?
That's not right. I'll revisit it next week.
 Or at the least, very few, you nerds!