The signature villain of the praised Fighting Fantasy author Keith Martin, Count Reiner Heydrich is a powerful Vampire Lord who serves as the primary antagonist of the gamebooks Vault of the Vampire and Revenge of the Vampire. Reiner Heydrich, Zagor and Zanbar Bone are the only villains of the series to be confronted in more than one gamebook. He stands out for his charisma, his deep background, and the tremendous final battles against him.
Count Reiner Heydrich was born in a centuries old, aristocratic family who rule the county of Mortvania in Mauristasia, a country in the far north of the Old World, one of the three continents of the world of Titan. There were some vampires in his line, represented in portraits in Heydrich's main coffin room, hinting that the Vampire Lord holds them in high regards. This is further supported by the written mention made by Heydrich himself about his vampire ancestor Count Nusfera Heydrich, which also hints that Reiner Heydrich willingly became a vampire.
Reiner Heydrich was the second in line to inherit the title of count, something he strongly resented. One day, his elder brother Siegfried Heydrich disappeared never to be seen again, and he became count. As one would easily guess, it was Reiner who murdered his brother to usurp his place. From then on, Mortvania fell under Reiner Heydrich's awful tyranny for many decades. (Some testimonies mention entire populations being slaughtered.) At some point, Reiner Heydrich became a vampire, worsening his reign of terror.
Appearance and characteristics
Reiner Heydrich is described as a typical vampire, tall and imposing, with jetty black hair, red eyes and chalk-white skin, clad mostly in black with a black and red cape. He is described as having been very handsome as a human.
Heydrich has a strong charisma with an imposing and dangerously attractive presence, and the narration insists on the fear and magnetism he induces on his followers, his victims and even the playable character. As a human, he was already malevolent, hateful and power-hungry, which worsened when he became a vampire. He is very refined and poised, with aristocratic manners and very good taste, but merciless with foes and followers alike, arrogant, scornful, and very sardonic. He is also immensely intelligent and scheming, preparing many hideouts or safe retreat points, carefully hiding his true goals and calculating his schemes flawlessly. Contrary to most of the series' villains, he never hesitates to step into action and deal with troubles himself, and involves himself much in his plots.
As an aristocrat, Heydrich is also an adept hunter who exposes many (bewitched) trophies in his residences, and was likely taught swordplay and the arts of war. He has considerable wealth at his disposal, being able to buy a huge mansion and to hire many assassins in the second book.
The Heydrich Family
Reiner's late older brother, and a powerful holy knight. Siegfried and Reiner deeply hated each other, to the point that after becoming count, Reiner destroyed every painting of his brother in the entire castle. Surprisingly, he had Siegfried's corpse embalmed and put into a vault in the castle crypt. Reiner also hid Siegfried's holy shield and magic chainmail away, having them guarded by two of his strongest monsters, before sealing away Nightstar, Siegfried's powerful magic sword, as they were among the only artifacts potent enough to threaten him.
In Vault of the Vampire, Siegfried's ghost haunts the castle and provides you with a magic sword, should you meet him at the beginning of your quest. Siegfried is later encountered in his vault, where he helps you to unlock his own magic sword and provides useful advices. In Revenge of the Vampire, it is revealed that Reiner's resurrection triggered the return of Siegfried's ghost, as the two brothers are linked. Siegfried is trapped in a limbo (likely by Reiner himself) but if you meet him, he will provide priceless guidance.
Katarina Heydrich is Reiner's younger sister. As evil, dangerous and ambitious as her brother, she is a very powerful witch who serves as a major antagonist in Vault of the Vampire. Katarina uses the blood of young maiden in dark rituals to retain her youth and astonishing beauty.
In Vault of the Vampire, she lives a luxury life in the castle, and gets along quite well with her vampire brother, who often gives her some of his prey for her to use. She never makes a direct attempt against Reiner but awaits the one who would do the work, so that she could claim the title of Countess. In Revenge of the Vampire, she is resurrected as a vampire by Reiner's servants to be his second-in-command and is fought during the final battle.
The last of Reiner Heydrich's siblings, Gunthar, is a talented healer and a wise and benevolent man who is forced to endure his brother's tyranny, as he lacks the fighting skills and the will to go against his own brother. Reiner stole his book to prevent him from using his healing talents and whenever he tried to get it back, he was chased out by the countless bats and rats under Reiner's control. Gunthar is in line to become count of Mortvania, should his evil older siblings be slain. He does not appear in the second book.
There is also Reiner's cousin, Wilhelm Heydrich, who only appears in the first book. He is an insane young man who lives in the castle and who can either welcome strangers warmly, ignore them or attack them out of the blue, depending on the result of a dice roll. He knows much more about his evil cousin's secrets that one could suspect, but given his madness you may not realize immediately the full extent of his revelations. If you kill him, it triggers the wrath of his pet raven.
Powers, Abilities and Weaknesses
The Count is a highly powerful vampire, much mightier than the regular ones found in other gamebooks. (Who are already very dangerous foes in their own right.) He is able to shape-shift at will, and is often seen under the form of a yellow cloud of mist and of a great bat to travel long distances, or the form of a wolf to attack his enemies. His strong magnetism enables him to get people to serve him (though some are malevolent enough to serve him willingly) and he can hypnotise people, to bite them without resistance or use them to do his biddings.
He has also the power to control animals, to the point of binding werewolves to his will (including you, should you succumb to the curse). He controls mostly wolves, rats and bats which he uses as guards and "watchdogs". Heydrich can also influence the weather to cause storms, fog and other things at will.
More importantly, Heydrich is insanely strong. So much that he does not need any weapon but his fists and sharp nails in battle. In the second book, depending on the conditions, his blows can be powerful enough to deal much more damage than a regular wound or even kill you outright. Although biting his foes causes more dangerous wounds, it does not come in handy for him and he only does so as a last resort.
Moreover, Heydrich is well versed into Dark Magic, as he sealed Siegfried's sword Nightstar within a book and protected it with a counter-spell potent enough to cancel his sister's expertise in magic. He mostly uses magic to create demonic golem-like beings and to set magical traps.
Being a vampire, Heydrich is vulnerable to holy water and any other spell or item that affect undeads. He also cannot stand garlic or seeing a mirror, he cannot cross a river, and he must rest during daytime. Attacking him with a regular sword would only lead to a painful demise. You need a magic sword to face him in battle, but vanquishing him merely knocks him out and he must be fully destroyed immediately after, before he starts regenerating. Heydrich has huge regenerative abilities and can regain a great deal of stamina by merely resting for a short while.
Increase of power in Revenge of the Vampire
In Revenge of the Vampire, Heydrich becomes invulnerable to anything that can usually destroy a vampire, like being beheaded, impaled through the heart or even exposed to sunlight. This is due to the Red Crystal Heart crafted by the three witches who resurrected him. As long as the accursed jewel exists, nothing will harm him, and the only way to destroy the Crystal Heart is to place it on the amulet that Heydrich wears around his neck after defeating him in battle.
During the final confrontation of the second book, Heydrich absorbs vampiric energies to make his power skyrocket. He would have become unstoppable, had you not reached him before he could absorb all the energies. Heydrich gains strength way over the normal maximum level and becomes able to generate illusions, to raise magic barriers, to teleport and to attack with flames or clouds of frost. If you defeat Heydrich without killing him, he loses all these newfound powers in the next battle.
In Vault of the Vampire
When you arrive in Mortvania, appealed by legends about wonderful treasures hidden in the snowy mountains of the far north, you only see poverty and wariness, with lots of garlic on the doors and windows. In the village’s inn, you are quickly told about Count Reiner Heydrich, the Vampire Lord who rules Mortvania with an iron fist and makes everyone’s life a nightmare.
The Castle Heydrich, which was once a safe haven, is now filled with monsters, undeads and demonic spirits under the Count’s orders, and regularly, his black coach led by a headless coachman comes in town to fetch young people, leading them to a dire fate. Heydrich usually drinks his captive’s blood but he sometimes gives them to his sister, the dreaded witch Katarina. In all cases their horrible screams of agony are often heard back in town.
An old lady suddenly begs you to go to the castle rescue her granddaughter Nastassia, who was abducted the day before, as none in town is capable of such a feat. Immediately after, the headless coachman storms into the inn and orders you to follow him into the carriage. If you comply, you will be attacked by a spectre under Heydrich’s command, and you might fall in the forest where you must fight a werewolf, at the risk of being infected by its curse.
If you head to the castle on your own, you might spend the night in the house of the dwarf Snivel, a servant of the Count. Snivel warns Heydrich, who attacks you shape-shifted as a wolf, forcing you to flee. It must be noted that a violent storms breaks out when someone praises the late Siegfried Heydrich.
Upon entering the castle, you may fight Heydrich's demon stallion and meet Siegfried's ghost to gain a highly useful magic sword. You must look for Siegfried's holy shield and magic chainmail, carefully hidden and guarded by very dangerous monsters, as well as the book in which the sword Nightstar was sealed. You must also find and destroy at least two of Heydrich's secret coffins. You may also learn about the Count and how to fight him from his librarian, Lothar, the friendly castellan, as well Gunthar and Wilhelm Heydrich. Finally, you might meet Heydrich himself, who will only taunt you before flying away, unimpressed. (Had Heydrich attacked you at this point, finishing the game would have been close to impossible.)
One coffin is obviously located in Heydrich's private quarters, where you must not drink the red wine (as it is blood) or eat the cookies (as the main ingredient is coagulated blood). These quarters are guarded by Heydrich’s pets, an annoying vampire ferret and a horned vampire bat that might curse you, and by a powerful and dangerous spectre.
- The spectre can only be harmed by a magic sword and if you lack one you run the risk of getting killed when trying to escape. The spectre has 10 in skill (level of power) and 14 in stamina (life-points) and if it strikes you at least once, it can cost you 1 skill point 5 in 6 times.
When this is done, you can head to the crypt where Heydrich is waiting for you. In the crypt, you can learn some useful spells and meet Siegfried's ghost. If you own the Book of Swords, you will gain Nightstar, an ace card to fight the powerful Vampire Lord. You will also have to face a Major Thassaloss: a fearsome skeleton monster before reaching the Count, who is preparing to offer Nastassia, the abducted townsgirl, to his evil sister.
- The Major Thassaloss has 10 in skill and 15 in stamina, and fires green eye-beams that cause nearly unavoidable additional damage. If you learnt the Shattering Spell, you can destroy it without fight and avoid a dangerous battle.
Battle against Heydrich
Heydrich first tries to hypnotize you, and if you lose a test of faith to resist it or if you have no garlic, you get bitten and the game is over. Heydrich can be harmed beforehand with holy water and a magic spell, but he might resist the spell and halve the damage taken.
The Vampire Lord is a formidable enemy, with 13 in skill (one point over the regular maximum) and 21 in stamina. Without a magic sword, you are doomed. Without Nightstar or the chainmail, the battle will be very hard, but the more you have the easier it becomes. Upon falling below 4 in stamina, Heydrich flees to regain some strength, before coming back and restarting the fight. (You can prevent his escape with a binding spell.) When on the verge of losing, Heydrich starts attacking you with his fangs. While he loses 2 skill points in the process, he wins the fight if he manages to bite you twice.
Should Heydrich be defeated while there is more than one of his secret coffins left, you will not be able to prevent him from escaping, leading to a pyrrhic victory in which Nastassia is saved, but not for long as Mortvania is still under Heydrich's grasp. If at least two of the coffins have been destroyed, you will find the secret room where Heydrich is resting in his last coffin, and destroy him by piercing his heart with a stake (or Nightstar) while raising a crucifix (or the holy shield). If you lack such items, you will not be able to destroy the vampire and the game will end on a similar pyrrhic victory, marked by Heydrich's sardonic smile.
With Heydrich gone, you will have to defeat the game's final enemy, the Count's sister Katarina Heydrich, who comes to get rid of you and claim the title of Countess of Mortvania. Katarina is a powerful enemy with 10 in skill and 10 in stamina, but she is nowhere as dangerous as her vampire brother.
In Revenge of the VampireIn the second gamebook, Count Reiner Heydrich is resurrected centuries after his demise by three witch sisters, who binds his malevolent soul to a unholy relic, the Red Heart Crystal, making the Vampire Lord close to invincible. Heydrich leaves Mortvania, which no longer interests him, and sets out to take over the entire Old World.
Heydrich recruits cohorts of corrupt humans, monsters and undeads (including the many vampires he spawned) and buys Mortus Mansion, a manor rumoured to be haunted whose awful reputation provides an excellent cover for his activities. He also leaves the Heart Crystal under the care of the witches, as it would be dangerous to keep it with him before his masterplan is completed, should he be confronted when resting. However, he intends to take it back when the time comes.
In Revenge of the Vampire, you play an adventurer who meets a blind old man named Henrik. You offer to escort him the following day but only to discover that he has been murdered during the night. You learn about Count Reiner Heydrich in Henrik's letters, and you understand that Heydrich had Henrik killed because the blind vampire hunter was hunting him down. You then resolve to find Henrik's friend (and accomplice in the vampire hunt) Sewarth.
It turns out that Sewarth is a chief monk in a religious congregation, which Heydrich himself invaded to kill him and steal his codex, in which he wrote everything he discovered about the Vampire Lord's plans. You are unable to prevent Heydrich and his ghoul minions to slaughter the congregation, and might even fight Father Endrell, a monk-wizard who serves the vampire.
- Endrell is a dangerous enemy with 9 in skill and 11 in stamina who fights with a magic staff. If you attempt to take him by surprise, he might cast a damaging spell before fighting, but succeeding enables you to strike before the battle begins.
You may attack Heydrich as he is about to leave in his coach, but he will merely grab your sword and hit you in the face with the hilt. If you succeed in tracking Heydrich down to the inn where he takes shelter during daytime, having hypnotised everyone in it, you can enter the vampire's room and fight Igor, Heydrich's powerful bodyguard.
- Igor has 9 in skill, 11 in stamina and his sword strikes can cost 3 stamina points instead of the regular 2, making him a very dangerous enemy.
As Heydrich is resting, he cannot prevent you from taking Sewarth's codex, but each attempt to slay the vampire only increases the irony in his smile. You may also rescue Sandar, another monk whom Heydrich hypnotized to learn the congregation's secrets and exiled away under the spell of a cursed amulet.
There begins your long quest to find and to kill Heydrich before it is too late. Unfortunately for you, Heydrich has spies everywhere and he will frequently send monsters and assassins after you. You may also have to save Harquar, Henrik’s and Sewarth’s third accomplice, from a demonic being sent by the Count, who would stop at nothing to eliminate those in the know.
You will learn in Sewarth's Codex about Heydrich's hideout in the Mortus Mansion, the three witch sisters who resurrected him and their plan of raising an army of vampires to invade the Old World. You must find and kill the powerful witches to take Heydrich's Crystal Heart.
- One of the witches has been turned into stone by a basilisk and Shevalla and Carrolar, the remaining two can either be fought together or separatedly. When challenged one-on-one, the witches will send a monster against you before fighting and might even try to cast a hindering spell. Fighting them without a magic weapon only leads to a game over.
- Shevalla the eldest witch has 9 in skill and 11 in stamina. During the first two attack rounds, she casts Lighting spells costing 4 stamina points, then she fights with a poisoned dagger that costs 3 stamina points.
- Carrolar has 10 in skill and 10 in stamina. She wields a poisoned dagger that costs 3 stamina points, but she might drop it and use a simple knife instead.
- You can track down the dangerous basilisk if you strike a deal with a witch (who will not respect it), but you must win a test of luck or get turned to stone upon confronting the beast. It has only 8 in skill and 10 in stamina, but you must fight it with a mirror or with your eyes closed to avoid getting turned to stone, and loses 2 skill points for the fight.
You must also sneak into Mortus Mansion, which is reminiscent of the castle in the first gamebook, as it is filled with monsters and traps. You will face Reiner Heydrich himself in the mansion's crypt. If you own the Crystal Heart, the Count will flee. If not, the Count will attack.
- Heydrich is a very powerful and dangerous enemy who may decrease your skill by 1 point with his hypnotic gaze and once again, seals your doom if you lack a magic weapon. He has 11 in skill and 15 in stamina, and he can kill you with one blow, should he gather enough attack power.
Through your investigations, you must discover Heydrich's final hideout, the Ghoulcrypts, an ancient mine invaded by ghouls and demons, where the five Great Vampire Elders of Titan and the five Thorn Knights who slew them are buried. (If you could not find out about it, the game will be lost.) You must find the powerful magic sword Imperator in the Knights' vaults, gaining an ace card in the upcoming final battle.
Upon confronting Heydrich, it now becomes clear that his real goal is in fact to absorb the Great Elders' powers, so as to become incredibly powerful and invincible. He carefully hid this secret from allies and foes alike, and covered his tracks to focus his foes’ attention on Mortus Mansion alone. Should he succeed, he would no longer need the witches to watch over the Heart Crystal and would likely get rid of them. You must first battle a dangerous Megaghoul before facing the Vampire Lord at last.
- The Megaghoul is a powerful enemy with 10 in skill and 13 in stamina, who uses poison and acid in addition to its infected claws, costing 2 to 4 stamina points with each blow. Just like every other ghoul, it wins the fight if it strikes you thrice.
Battle against Heydrich
Heydrich has yet to absorb all of the Elders’ power, but he already gained enough might to put up a purely tremendous fight. You can attack him at distance, but the vampire counterattacks with flames that cost 3 stamina points, should he be favored by the dices. If you cross the bridge to reach the vampire, he will conjure a cloud of frost that you must evade. If the frost strikes you, you lose 2 stamina points, as well as 2 skill points for the first turns of the battle.
Heydrich is highly powerful. He has 15 in skill (3 points over the normal maximum) and a base stat of 30 in stamina, no less. The Vampire Lord's stamina total can be decreased, and his skill total can be decreased by 1 or 2 points, according to the way you led your quest and your total of faith points. During the first three turns of the fight, Heydrich's hypnotic gaze can paralyze you and automatically defeat you. That will not work if you own the sword Imperator, or if you use a mirror. (Though using the mirror will decrease your skill by 1 point.) If Heydrich gets wounded enough, he starts fighting with his fangs and loses 2 skill points, but if he manages to bite you he may cause a loss of 4 stamina points, and even win the fight if he is not defeated at least 4 turns later.
If you slay the mighty Vampire Lord, you will be attacked by his sister Katarina, who was resurrected and turned into a vampire by Heydrich's servants. If you do not slay him, the Count will teleport away to rest in his coffin, generating an illusion to lure you into a deadly trap. If you avoid the trap, you will meet Katarina, who first pretends to be a captive girl to catch you off-guard.
When Katarina is slain, an enraged Heydrich engages the decisive battle. Heydrich lost all his newfound powers and has "only" 11 in skills and 10 in stamina, though he may have more stamina, depending on your actions. Despite this, he remains a deadly foe whose blows cost 3 stamina points and can even cost 6. If that's the case you will have to roll three dices; if the result surpasses your stamina score, the blow will kill you outright!
Considering your weakened state from the tremendous previous two battles, this poses a serious threat, so it's better to avoid this fight by slaying Heydrich during the first confrontation before getting rid of Katarina.
- Count Reiner Heydrich is heavily based on Count Dracula. The author created him in with the intent to set the Dracula mythos in the Fighting Fantasy universe. In Revenge of the Vampire, he is depicted wearing the same outfit as Bela Lugosi's famous portrayal of the Count.
- Heydrich is named after Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking Nazi dignitary.
- Heydrich's page on Titannica the Fighting Fantasy Wiki: http://fightingfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Reiner_Heydrich.