Alternate Vampires

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Alternate Vampires

Postby Santa_Jaws » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:48 pm

Hi. I like vampires. I know, I know. I'm sorry. They're very trendy lately, I know, but they're just such great villains, and also great fodder. And occasionally, really great characters.

So naturally, I'd enjoy vampires in D&D and Pathfinder. Except...the vampire template is pretty powerful, to the point where I'd be very uncomfortable using it in anything but an epic level campaign. And since I've never played an epic level campaign, I pretty much don't use it. (And then there's the Alignment issue, but adventurers are usually the exceptions to rules, aren't they?)

And I know that there are Dhampirs, and trust me, it does look pretty cool. I love Vampire Hunter D, and I loved Symphony of the Night, but the Dhampir is just a bit...squishy for my tastes. Plus, they really are prettyboys, aren't they? I mean, if I was aiming for something melodramatic, they'd be great, but that's not always what I'm after.

So, after watching a lot of Angel and Buffy, and The Lost Boys, I sort of had an idea for an alternate sort of 'template'. Nothing's set in stone, and I'm really horrible at this, but I still had some ideas.

1) Have a transformation, kind of like Lycanthropes now that I think about it. Part of this is because it's cool, but partly because the entire group having to wait until nightfall before Larry can travel with them is a real pain. So what I thought, is they have their normal 'vamp' version, with their nifty abilities, but with a lot of their weaknesses...but also a more 'human' version, that they can travel around in freely at the cost of being considerably weaker. It might hit their stats, it might not, who knows. (Obviously, they should still have their eternal youth in human form, otherwise longterm campaigns get...complicated.)

2) Obviously, seriously reduce the amount of everything that they get. Since I personally far prefer martial classes to spellcasters, I'd give them a strength bonus when they 'vamp out', but possibly at the cost of losing a bit of INT, or giving them a sort of blood lust, make it easy for them to slip in terms of alignment. Possibly take a major hit to their Charisma as well, but nothing's set in stone, obviously.

EDIT: Oh, I had an idea. What if in their 'normal' form, they have minor bonuses to int or wis or cha, so that would be ideal for a spellcaster. But that kind of goes away when they vamp out, where they gain a STR bonus, a DEX bonus, take hits to their non-physical stats, and overall just become a lot more physical. That way, there are benefits no matter which direction you want to go.

3) Keep their normal amount of weaknesses, maybe reduce some of those when they're in 'human' form, but not all of them. Maybe their aversion to holy symbols and the need to be invited into homes still applies. Also, maybe have some things(certain spells, massive trauma, etc) can potentially 'force' a change, which can be bad times depending on where they are.

Initial ideas, after posting this elsewhere(the concern is that a vampire, due to being so Different And Special, basically has a knack for disrupting an otherwise standard game):

The PC is immune to nonmagical poisons and disease. Has resistances to mind control and Negative energy.

Also, compatible healing with the rest of the party: maybe if the vampire isn't of evil alignment, that specifically means he's got a 'soul', or is in some way a special case from the usual bloodsuckers. In any case, this affords him to be treated by the Cleric of the party.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:17 pm

Well if you want vamps for lower levels,you dont really need to nerf them as a species,you simply have to tailor the campaign so that the vamp is in disadvantage.Have the players find him during the day.Have them get a quest from a local cleric that will give them a one shot mass necromancy ward,or a powerful wand.Have them stumble upon a weakend vampire(he just fought another party,or a werewolf).Or better yet,a blinded vampire,so that it cannot dominate anyone.Or maybe a newly created vampire,that hasnt had a chance to adjust to its new form.

Or,if you want a half vamp,that is not that strong,you can put in a necromancer that tried to make himself into a vampire(any powerful undead can work here),but failed,and is now just a shell of one.This way,you can pick any powers and weaknesses for them from the list.You can even add some of your choosing.
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Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Santa_Jaws » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:38 pm

Those are all good ideas, but for some of them, I'm not sure if I like the idea of being that submissive to the party, or having my life in their hands. Can you imagine the crew from DM of the Rings finding a weakened vampire who needs them to do a quest to help him?

Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Mikeh5 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:12 pm

Another idea is perhaps to use a Wight to represent a kind of anciewnt crippled vampire. Add vampire powers and feeding to it as well as weaknesses and no stat buffs and enjoy
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Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Chamomile » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:39 pm

First of all, I feel compelled to point out that vampires are absolutely not epic level material in 3.0/3.5/PF. They're mid-level at start. If we try to make the weakest possible vampire, what you get is a dude who was already level 5 (level 4 and below turn into vampire spawn instead) who also gets:

-+6 AC which makes him 30% likely to be hit by any physical attack and a few magic ones
-A powerful and at-will dominate ability with a save that mid-level characters should pass, high-level characters will almost always pass, but which low-level characters will probably fail (unless their build happens to splurge on Will saves, like, say, a Cleric, in which case their odds are decent but not amazing)
-The ability to drain CON with a melee attack, and make level 4 bad guys out of anyone completely killed by this ability
-The ability to summon a pack of wolves, bats, or rats, any of which is unlikely to challenge a party higher than level 3
-The ability to turn into a level 2 or 3 monster, i.e. something weaker than it already is
-Significant auto-healing and token damage resistance, because even though DR 10 is a lot being bypassed by magic weapons and silver means that anyone who could seriously threaten a level 5 character in the first place has access to the tools to ignore the damage resistance altogether (although there are still several monsters where it will help out, because they're of animal intelligence and can't just buy a silver version of whatever weapon they use)
-Some energy resistances to stuff that isn't super-common anyway
-The ability to cheat death, which is nifty but doesn't help you win battles, just lose less when you lose
-Spider climb, a spell available to Wizards and Sorcerers from level 3 and which, by level 7, they can cast basically whenever they want because the low-level slots are typically where you put your utility spells (saving high-level slots for combat spells, since having to go back to town and buy a climber's kit is never a worse fate than being murdered by bearded devils or whatever)

That is a long list of abilities, but only two or three of them are anything more than interesting flavor. And while it's cool that vampires get that flavor, they aren't epic level because of it. That gaze-to-dominate ability is awesome, the AC, auto-healing, and damage resistance are respectable at mid-level but not overwhelming, and the ability to make a hypothetically infinite number of level 4 minions means that only people strong enough to cut through an arbitrarily large number of level 4 minions can seriously threaten you. Plus you're a level 5 character with all the hit points and save progressions and class features that entails. Which means you're basically a level 8 or 9 challenge. Mid-level, approaching high-level, nowhere close to epic levels.

If you tweak the rules to allow a level 1 character to be a straight-up vampire instead of a vampire spawn, you instead end up with a character who is extremely fragile but has a devastating at-will dominate, and who can also turn into a level 3 Dire Wolf if he encounters a level 1 or 2 enemy and he wants to play it safe. A glass cannon who's probably only about a level 4 or 5 threat, since that's the point where monsters can start dishing out enough damage to cut through all that DR and your one d12 hit die, as well as being around the level where casters can throw out save-or-dies multiple times in a single fight, which the vampire's level 1 saves are probably going to fail regardless of his dominate ability being something the Wizard won't get until level 9 and then only once an encounter. That's kind of cool as an antagonist, but a character who is at the very weakest about level 5 is still unusable, because 5 is more than 1. So let's try ripping the vampire's abilities down a little.

I'm going to make Vampire a class, because even though that's kind of sloppy, it's much easier to have these abilities scale to level rather than being the flat bonuses that races or templates give you. We'll make it a martial class since you said that's what you want, and also because the Fighter is an infamously underpowered class who we can add a few extra abilities to without breaking the game.


Alignment: Any. The requirement to suck blood does mean that the vast majority end up as Evil sooner or later, though.

Hit Dice: d12
Class Skills: As Fighter
Skill Points: 2+INT

BAB: Good
Fort: Good
Ref: Poor
Will: Good

Proficiencies: The Vampire is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, as well as all light and medium armor, plus shields (but not tower shields).

Bonus Feats: The Vampire gains bonus feats the same way as the Fighter.

Undead: Vampires are undead...Sort of. They have the Vampiric sub-type, which means they don't have a CON score but don't get any of the various and sundry undead immunities. Vampires can be paralyzed, put to sleep, critically hit, and energy drained just like anyone else. They are, however, immune to disease and death effects, qualify as undead for purposes of pre-requisites, healed by negative energy, and harmed by positive energy. Level 1 Vampires are going to be fans of non-Good Clerics.

Predatory Form: All of the Vampire's class features except his bonus feats and his being an undead are only available when in his predatory form. This form makes it obvious to all that he is a vampire and cannot be used in daylight.

Alternate Form: At level 1, the Vampire can transform into a wolf or bat. At level 2, he can additionally transform into a dire bat, and at level 3, he can transform into a dire wolf.

Damage Reduction: The Vampire has damage reduction equal to his Vampire level, which is bypassed by silver or magic.

Blood Drain (Ex): A vampire can suck blood from a living victim with is fangs by succeeding on a grapple check to pin the target. The Vampire deals 1 point of Constitution damage for every three Vampire levels, rounded up. For every point of Constitution damage dealt, the vampire gains 5 temporary hit points.

Fast Healing: At level 2, the Vampire gains Fast Healing when standing in moonlight. The amount healed per round is equal to his Vampire level divided by 2, rounded down.

Resistances: At level 2, the Vampire gains resistance to cold and electricity equal to his Vampire level.

Gaze (Su): At level 3, the Vampire charm someone as with the Charm Person spell at-will by looking into their eyes as a standard action. The Save DC is 10+1/2 Vampire level+CHA bonus. At level 7, this ability is upgraded to Charm Monster. At level 9, it is upgraded to Dominate Person, and at level 19, it is upgraded to Dominate Monster. You can use lower-level versions of the gaze instead of higher-level versions if you like (particularly, you can still Charm Monster even after you've upgraded to Dominate Person).

Spider Climb (Su): At level 4, the Vampire can Spider Climb at will.

Energy Drain (Su): At level 4, living creatures hit by the Vampire's natural weapons take one negative level for every four Vampire levels, rounded down.

Gaseous Form (Su): At level 5, the Vampire can assume Gaseous Form at-will. At level 6, the Vampire automatically assumes Gaseous Form when reduced to zero hit points or below and does not die, but instead returns to a pre-determined not-so-final resting place of some kind. Sedentary Vampires will often rest in a lavish crypt, but more mobile vampires might just return to a shallow and unmarked grave they've dug at their latest campsite.

Children of the Night (Su): At level 6, the Vampire gains the Children of the Night ability, allowing them to summon and command 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or 3d6 wolves. These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the vampire for 1 hour. You cannot use the Children of the Night ability again until the hour is up.

Create Spawn (Su): At level 7, the Vampire can create spawn. Any creatures slain by its energy drain power return as vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial. Any creatures killed by having their Constitution drained to 0 return either as vampire spawn if they were 4 HD or lower or as vampires (use the template) if they had 5 HD or more.

True Undead (Su): At level 9, the Vampire acquires the usual undead immunities to sleep, paralysis, disease, poison, stunning, critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability drain, and energy drain.
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Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby dudecon » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:34 pm

As a broad view of creating creature templates, a good method is to decide on a theme, and then build around that.
The power levels scale fairly well of course, more or less attacks, hit points, damage, power uses, etc. I would be more interested in first building an interesting monster, as it can always be balanced once you have the core powers decided on.
I'm no literature major, but IMO traditional "vampires" are a symbol of unacceptable sexual urges (in Victorian society). Even the recent interest in vampires has centered around their central theme of "forbidden sex". If you want to stick with that, you'll probably end up with something interesting. Of course, you could choose a very different theme, but it might not end up "feeling right" if "vampires" are the goal.
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Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Helm » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:15 pm

You could always go with a Morbius type of thing where he/she's not a true vampire and tailor it to suit yourself

Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Moridin » Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:01 pm

If you want to make a vampire class, you should take a look at Savage Species. It has guidelines and example monsters on how to turn a monster into a class that lets you play it from level one. Also, Denizens of Dread has a bunch of different vampire types that might give you ideas.

Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Rumal » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:27 am

Typically, I say that vampire PCs and such should be mostly fluff and little mechanics.

What I mean by this is that I don't bother making a vampire specific class, or a template, or a whole suite of vampire powers. I come up with some benefits and drawbacks that will fit into an existing setting and a specific party within it, and I say "That's a vampire." These benefits and drawbacks are mostly RP things, so as to avoid making a mess of combat.

So in one setting, maybe they're weak to sunlight making direct skin contact, which lets them get around with a mask and cloak and gloves and such. Of course, they have to explain why they're wearing a full mask and cloak and gloves setup in the summer, but they can travel with the party. In another, more thiefesque/nocturnal group, they can't be outdoors in direct sunlight at all, but this is a party that holes up to sleep for the day before breaking into houses at night, so it works for him. He just has to hole up in some unusual places occasionally while he hides out from the sun. The idea is to come up with a set of limitations that keep the flavor and idea of the vampire while not being a horrible burden on the party. Are they in the same setting? No problem. They've got different bloodlines that have different weaknesses. Easy.

As for powers, since they get a full regular character class, I tend not to go overboard here. I generally set some base rules for things I don't want vampires to. This is things like "Mist form and turning into bats would ruin a setting where "how do we get into the house" is a big deal, so you can't do that."

Then I just give them an arbitrary amount of blood points. Call it an even 100. When they want to do something cool and vampirey, they say what it is. If I allow it, I dock them an arbitrary amount of blood based on how powerful it is and how effective it is. They've got to replenish blood by actively feeding in an RP manner. I don't get all questy about this, and it can be resolved by something as simple as "I catch a bum in an ally and feed", getting a party member to bleed into a glass, sneaking into a room in an inn, etc, etc. I just keep a tab on how they're feeding and how often, and there start to be story consequences. Hunters drawn by the outbreak of bums with bitemarks. Special investigators tracking murders if they're hiding bodies. Whatever.

The problem with this kind of thing is that it depends on your players to be cool about it and not abuse the freedom, so it's not for everybody.

Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby roll-a-die » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:46 am

Take a look at Monte Cooks World of Darkness, if I recall correctly it took the first two new World of Darkness lines, Vampire and Werewolf and ported them to the d20 system.

Also maybe take a look at the original material, both lines, Vampire the Requiem(New World of Darkness) and Vampire the Masquerade(Old World of Darkness), for standard DnD you might take a look at the dark ages supplements for Vampire the Masquerade, and the Rome Duo of Books for Requiem. They present very interesting peaks into what Vampires could be and have strong mythological elements and strong long lived societies taken with a realistic non-idealized slant.

Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Cannongerbil » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:08 pm

I think a good way to represent a vampiric race would be to use the living construct subtype as a base, since a construct and a moving corpse share much of the same characteristics, with the exception of the healing methods available to both of them. Here's the link to the template on the wizard website:
Simply allow them to heal by sucking blood from living targets at a 1 to 1 ratio and it should present as a viable 0LA PC race.

You can then introduce the various vampiric abilities such as mist form as feats, that can be taken by the vampiric PC whenever they receive a feat slot. Such feats will allow them to cast the typical vampiric spell like abilities by spending a number of hit points equivalent to it's spell level.

As for the sunlight issue, you can use the older types of vampire weaknesses, where sunlight merely prevents them from using vampiric abilities rather than kill them. You can also impose a penalty on certain rolls made while the character is in sunlight, similar to the Drow light blindness, and prevent them from healing by sucking blood. This makes it that while sunlight hampers the character's performance, it does not prevent them from acting during daylight hours, just annoying to.

You might also want to take a look at the Pathfinder race points system. It provides a somewhat more structured way to create balanced new races, though it can be somewhat restrictive at times. Link below:
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Re: Alternate Vampires

Postby Naota » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:45 pm

Since most of the trouble with playing a vampire in Pathfinder and 3.5 revolves around lower level play, I took at stab at scaling the vampire template offered by Paizo by level/Hit Dice in the same way as a character class might. I also limited or removed some of the vampire's more egregious abilities that would be too strong or seem needlessly awkward in the hands of a player. It's still much stronger than a standard race, but I had intended to pick a weaker class (Noble Scion/Noble from the Freeport book) or even take NPC class levels to make up for the power gap. Hopefully this solution is at least something a GM can withstand the sight of.

The biggest offenders in my opinion are the DR, fast healing, giant attribute increases, and free feats. You could probably cut the feat progression in half, drop the stat boosts to +2 Str/Dex/Cha, and axe a few of the skill bonuses or their scaling progression for an easy nerf if so inclined.

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