The following take on a vampire player character race is inspired by the classic treatments in Gothic literature, such as Lord Ruthven, Francis Varney, Carmilla Karnstein, and of course, the literary Count Dracula. There are some differences between the vampire of Gothic literature and the later examples of cinema and modern Paranormal Romances. In particular, all the aforementioned Gothic Vampires could freely move around during the day, a trait they shared in common with most vampires of actual Eastern European folklore. In creating the Vampyre as a character race, I’ve tried to play up the significant disadvantages that balance their powers, and thus instill a properly Gothic atmosphere of hopeless damnation. Enjoy!
A restless soul imprisoned in flesh, condemned to drink the blood of the living.
Those who have suffered unnatural deaths, who practiced in life unnatural arts, or who held in the hearts unnatural lusts, are sometimes denied even the peace of the grave. Condemned to wander the earth in a grotesque parody of life, they hunger for the blood of living beings. Such damned souls are called Vampyres.
Vampyres often appear to live undistinguished lives, no one suspecting their true nature. At night, however, Vampyres gain strange powers, and can assume their true, monstrous visages.
A Vampyre in her human form may appear to die many times, but each night she will rise again as a monster to torment the living. A shaft of wood, iron, or silver, driven through the heart of the Vampyre, will prevent her from rising from her grave, but only as long as it remains in place. There are only two ways for a Vampyre to truly die: she must either be beheaded, or her body fully consumed by flames. Immolation is perhaps the most painful death of all, and it is notoriously difficult to behead oneself. Although they are filled with self-loathing, Vampyres also fear the potential pain of dying, as well as the possibility of eternal torment thereafter. In their cowardice, most Vampyres resign themselves to their abominable existence.
Surprisingly, it is possible for a Vampyre to be of any Alignment. Eventually, however, most Vampyres lose all hope and become Evil. Good-aligned Vampyres must constantly reconcile their belief in the existence of cosmic justice and benevolence with the cruel fact of their own existence.
During the day, most Vampyres appear exactly the same as ordinary human beings. Some older Vampyres are marked by physical deformities, such as hairy palms, cadaverous pale skin, or permanent fangs. Once night falls, all Vampyres can assume a truly horrific form, like a combination of a shriveled corpse and predatory beast. Certain Vampyres can also assume animal forms at night, commonly those of wolves, bats, and large cats, but sometime even rats, owls and moths.
Vampyres are not natural creatures, but damned souls condemned to a restless death. Their condition is a curse of the soul, not a disorder of the body. Consequentially, it cannot be undone by any natural means short of actual beheading, or cremation. Even such magic as Cure Disease, Remove Curse, and Raise Dead are ineffectual. Only the awesome power of a True Resurrection, Wish, or Alter Reality spell can remove the curse of Vampyrism, and restore the victim to true human life. Some tales state that when necromancers attempt to raise the dead without divine sanction, the result is always a Vampyre.
Vampyres can eat and drink normally, but do not need to. Their necessary sustenance is blood, but they are perfectly capable of satiating their blood lust with animals. Human blood is far more delicious to the Vampyre’s perverted tastes, however. As Vampyres suffer increasing years of torment as undead monsters, most gradually lose any compunctions they once had about regarding human beings as food.
A Vampyre’s human form will age at the normal rate when exposed to sunlight. Thus, the bodies of those who become Vampyres at an early age can indeed mature, albeit at half the speed of a living human. Likewise, an adult Vampyre must be careful not to spend too much time in actual sunlight, lest they be forced to eventually exist in an old and shriveled human form during the day. Vampyres who avoid direct sunlight during the day do not need to fear aging.
Tales insist that male Vampyres can impregnate human women, resulting in strange offspring called Dhampirs. The reverse may also be true, although such a child, growing in an undead womb for a year and a half, will be condemned to existence as a full Vampyre. Vampyres can theoretically breed with each other, but such a speculation is too revolting to be considered by most sages.
Only certain very old and powerful Vampyres can deliberately inflict their condition upon their victims. Usually, dying as a result of a Vampyre’s attack is only one of many possible unnatural deaths that can result in the victim rising again as an undead monster. Other examples of unnatural deaths include being slain by a lycanthrope, dying as a result of witchcraft, or committing suicide. Executed criminals are at risk, especially murderers or witches. Heretics, wicked magicians, perverts, and libertines sometimes rise again as Vampyres, regardless of how they die. Being the illegitimate child of illegitimate parents, or the result of incest, can also damn a soul to restless death as a Vampyre. The most certain way of all to become a Vampyre is to have been a lycanthrope in life.
Psychology & Behavior
Almost all Vampyre hate their miserable semi-life. They long simultaneously for death and companionship, and are cursed to never truly know either. As years pass, most Vampyres lose interest in the concerns of their previous life, becoming true monsters. Their relationships with the living become limited to domination and exploitation. Only a few Vampyres are able to resist such urges, and they are almost always the newest. Most elder Vampyres are little more than single-minded curses upon the living, terrifying but ultimately pathetic abominations.
Those few Vampyres who find accepting companions may become obsessively protective of them. There is always an element of desperation in a Vampyre’s relationship with the living, and it is usual for a Vampyre’s obsessive love to eventually turn deadly. A Vampyre determined to have friends or lovers among the living must constantly check her own twisted desires.
Vampyres In Society
Although some tales speak of Kings and Princes who hold dominion over other Vampyres, the domain of such undead royalty almost certainly extends only to such broods as they may have themselves created. Otherwise, Vampyres are generally too few in number, and too locked into their own misery and obsessions, to have anything resembling their own society. Since Vampyres cannot feed from each other, most see no point in associating with other Vampyres.
Because of their long years and unnatural powers, it is not unusual for Vampyres to grow wealthy and powerful in human society. Rumors persist of isolated regions where Vampyres secretly rule as nobility, constantly fighting each other for ownership of peasant necks. A common trick for wealthy Vampyres is to periodically stage their own deaths, and return in the guise of long-lost heirs. Such Vampyre must always remain careful to hide their true nature.
On the other end of the social spectrum are those Vampyres who haunt burial grounds and ruins, consumed by a resentful hatred of the still-living. Such Vampyres may hide in their own graves or tombs during the day, even if there is no actual need for them to do so. Their entire existence may consist of hunting victims, and returning to their grave to brood upon their own damnation.
Rarest of all are those Vampyres who accept their condition, and roam in search of adventure. Often, such a Vampyres was a wanton libertine in life, so her desire for new experiences remains undeterred by the inconvenience of her death.
Relations With Other Races
Vampyres are hated by almost all living races. Known Vampyres are usually hunted without mercy. In fact, destroying a Vampyre is almost universally regarded as an act of mercy towards the Vampyre! Usually only outcasts, magicians, and the truly wicked will knowingly accept the company of Vampyres. Cambions, Fairy Changelings, and Moon-Calves, being unnatural beings themselves, have no fear of Vampyres. Dhampirs, on the other hand, hate Vampyres with an unquenchable passion. Under no circumstances can a Dhampir and a Vampyre ever be anything but mortal enemies.
Lycanthropes often associate with Vampyres, since many Vampyres are actually former Lycanthropes.
RISE FROM DEATH: A Vampyre’s body is recreated every night. All wounds are healed, broken or amputated limbs are restored, any diseases acquired are cured, and all deleterious conditions of the body are undone. If the Vampyre was slain during the day, and not beheaded and /or destroyed by fire, he will be fully restored to life. Only a stake, spike, or blade driven through his heart will prevent a Vampyre’s Rise From Death.
UNDEAD IMMUNITIES: At night, Vampyres become immune to all magic that affect minds or induces sleep, as well as to paralysis, all poisons, disease, or stun effects. Naturally, they are become immune to death magic. Note that that Vampyres can be affected by such effects during the day.
ASSUME VAMPYRIC FORM: At night, the Vampyre can assume a terrible form that truly reflects the abominable condition of her soul. The Vampyre’s skin becomes cadaverous and slightly translucent, while her body becomes disturbingly lean. Her face assumes a sunken and feral cast, with features suggestive of a wolf, bat, cat, or rat. Her ears will become pointed, while her eyes become like those of a demon. Her canine teeth will become long and pointed, while her fingernails become cruelly sharp claws. When in that form, the Vampyre gains a number of fearsome abilities and powers:
- The Vampyre can bite for 1d4 points of damage. If the victim is restrained (asleep, hypnotized, bound, or grappled), the Vampire can drain 1 pint of blood per round, causing the victim to also suffer 2 points of Constitution damage per pint of blood taken.
- Alternately, the Vampyre can attack twice with her claws. Each claw does 1d3 points of damage.
- The Vampyric Form can see perfectly in conditions of complete darkness, as if in daylight.
- Vampyres do not need to be in Vampyric Form to enjoy their Undead immunities.
- Vampyres can freely switch between their Vampyric and human forms at night.
VAMPYRIC POWERS: As souls caught between the worlds of the living and the dead, Vampyres gain strange Powers during the hours of darkness.
- At First Level a Vampyre has a single Power, which he can use once a night.
- With each Level, the Vampyre gains another Power.
- The player of a Vampyre character can choose to add any power available to his own Level, or a lower Level.
- A Vampyre has as many Powers as he has Levels,
- He can use his Powers as many times a night as he has Levels.
- A Vampyre can use any of his Powers as many times as he wants, to his nightly limit.
- Most Powers function just like a spell from a caster of equivalent Level.
- Once chosen, a Power can never be exchanged for another one.
- Vampyric Powers can be used only at night.
Powers available to Vampyres of Levels 1-3:
Communicate Across Room: As the spell Message.
Incredible Leaping: As the spell Jump.
Obscuring Mist: As the spell.
Protective Beast: As the spell Animal Friendship, but the Vampyre can only obtain the friendship of wolves, bats, cats, rats, spiders, crows, owls, vultures, goats, moths, and snakes.
Speak With Dark Beasts: As the spell Speak With Animals, but the Vampyre may only speak with wolves, bats, cats, rats, spiders, crows, owls, vultures, goats, moths, and snakes.
Spider Climb: As the spell.
Transform Into Mist: As the spell Gaseous Form.
Unnerving Presence: As the spell Daze.
Powers available to Vampyres of Levels 4-6:
Alter Features: As the spell Change Self.
Blazing Dexterity: As Enhance Attribute, except that multiple uses of this Power will add their effects, to a maximum score of 20.
Create Darkness: As the spell Darkness.
Frighten Enemies : As the spell Scare.
Hypnotic Stare: As the spell Hypnotism, and hypnotized people will allow themselves to be fed from, with no memory of the event afterward.
Incredible Constitution: As Enhance Attribute, except that multiple uses of this Power will add their effects, to a maximum score of 20.
Inhuman Strength: As Enhance Attribute, except that multiple uses of this Power will add their effects, to a maximum score of 20.
Inspire Devotion: As the spell Charm Person or Animal. Devoted people will unquestioningly accept the Vampyre’s condition. They may not automatically allow themselves to be used for blood, but can be convinced to. Beside people, Vampyres can only Inspire Devotion the following animals: wolves, bats, cats, rats, spiders, crows, owls, vultures, goats, moths, and snakes.
Read Minds: As the spell Detect Thoughts.
Unnatural Charisma: As Enhance Attribute, except that multiple uses of this Power will add their effects, to a maximum score of 20.
Powers available to Vampyres of Levels 7-9:
Induce Sleep: As the spell Sleep, except the Vampyre can only affect one creature of 5HD or fewer.
Summon Swarm: As the spell.
Transform Into Bat: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the only the forms of a normal or giant bat can be assumed. If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a bat will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Cat: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the only the forms of a domestic or wild cat can be assumed. If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a cat will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Fly: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the Vampyre may only assume the forms of a single normal fly, or a swarm of flies (1 fly per hit point possessed). If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a fly will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Moth: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the only the form of a moth or butterfly may be assumed. If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a moth will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Owl: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the only the form of an owl may be assumed. If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into an owl will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Rat: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the Vampyre may only assume the forms of a single normal rat, a giant rat, or a swarm of rats (each rat representing one hit point). If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a rat will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Spider: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the Vampyre may only assume the forms of a single normal spider, a giant spider, or a swarm of spiders (each spider representing one hit point). If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a spider will count as another use of the Power.
Transform Into Wolf: As the spell Polymorph Self, except the only the forms of a normal or dire wolf can be assumed. If the Vampyre reverts to human or Vampyric Form, transforming back into a wolf will count as another use of the Power.
Powers available to Vampyres of Levels 10 or above:
Bond With Victims: As the spell Telepathic Bond, except that the Vampyre only creates a bond with those it has fed upon.
Create New Vampyre: In order to use this power, the Vampyre must slay a victim by draining their blood. The victim receives a Wisdom saving throw. If failed, the soul is damned to rise the next night as a fully-fledged Vampyre, with all relevant changes to the body’s Ability Scores. New Vampyres are not under any special control, besides whatever personal fear they may have of the one who created them. Additionally, new Vampyres rise at the character Level they possessed in life, so would-be master Vampyres often wind up creating progeny that are far more powerful than expected.
Invisibility: As the spell. The Vampyre will become visible if they take offensive actions, including feeding. Becoming Invisible again requires another use of the Power.
Seductive Insinuation: As the spell Suggestion.
Summon Dark Beasts: As the spell Summon Animals, but the Vampyre may only summon wolves, bats, cats, rats, spiders, crows, owls, vultures, goats, moths, and snakes.
Walk Through Shadows: As the spell Shadow Walk.
Walk Through Walls: As the spell Passwall.
WEAKER DURING DAYLIGHT: During the hours of daylight, a Vampyre possesses none of their special abilities, and cannot Assume Vampyric Form.
- Any of the Vampyre’s Powers with a personal effect (such as Unnatural Strength or Transform Into Bat) always end at daybreak.
- The effects of Powers that influence others (such a Inspire Devotion or Protective Beast) continue for their normal duration after sunrise.
- Vampyres suffer from all of their Weaknesses and Debilities during the day.
- Vampyres can still drink blood during the day, but usually lack fangs.
BLOOD-LUST: Vampyres require blood, and in increasing amounts as they grow in power.
- A Vampyre must consume 1 pint of blood per night, per Level. Thus, a 9th Level Vampyre requires 9 pints of blood every night. Removing more than 3 pints of blood from a single person is usually fatal without medical attention.
- The blood a Vampyre needs can come from any mammal, but humanoid blood tastes best.
- A Vampyre that does not consume enough blood in a night will collapse at daybreak, her body apparently dead. Once nights falls, she will automatically Assume Vampyric Form. The Vampyre must make up her blood deficit in order to leave Vampyric Form, and again function in the daylight.
SUBJECT TO NECROMANCY: Vampyres are subject to all magic which targets or detects the dead or Undead, even when they are in their human form during the day.
CANNOT BE HEALED: Because they are unnatural abominations, Vampyres can never benefit from any form of natural medicine, or miraculous healing. Their wounds can still be sewn shut, for example, but healing herbs will be completely ineffectual. Healing potions and spells will have no power. Of course, Vampyres are immune to disease during the hours of night, and any wounds suffered during daylight are completely repaired once night falls.
VULNERABLE TO HOLY WATER: Vampyres suffer 1d8 points of burning damage from a phial of holy water, even when in human form. Since it inflicts burning damage, a Vampyre can be destroyed with Holy Water.
SUBJECT TO TURNING: People of extraordinary Faith, such as Holy Men, Clerics and Paladins, can Turn away Vampyres as Unique undead. Some Vampyres have a Debility of being affected by anyone who presents a holy symbol, but most can ignore people who doe not have a true link to the divine.
ADVANCEMENT PENALTIES: Vampyre characters require double the normal amount of experience points to advance in their character class. Additionally, Vampyre characters are locked into the Class they possessed when they first died, and may never multi-class. The exceptions are former Paladins (who change to either Fighters or Knights upon becoming Vampyres) and Clerics (who become Fighters).
VAMPYRIC DEBILITIES: As Vampyres continue in years, they lose connection with the natural world. They become subject to strange compulsions, acquire bizarre allergies, and even their daytime bodies become grotesquely twisted.
- Every Vampyre has at least one Debility, chosen form the list below.
- For every character Level that a Vampyre has or acquires, the player must choose another Debility for the character to suffer.
- Unlike Vampyric Powers, a Vampyre suffers from his Debilities at all times, even during the day when in his human form.
Possible Vampyric Debilities include:
Affected By Holy Symbols: The Vampyre cannot come within 10′ of an exposed holy symbol at any time.
Afraid of Fire: Any time the Vampyre sees a flame larger than that of a torch, he must save versus Wisdom, or be affected as by a Fear spell. He must also save if actually threatened with a flame of any size.
Blood Stained Lips: The Vampyre’s lips are permanently stained crimson. Unfortunately for Vampyres hoping to save money on cosmetics, the red stain is irregular, bleeding out of the lip line.
Cannot Cross Running Water: The Vampyre suffers 1d8 points of damage per round from any running water, such as a stream or river. Even pouring water on the Vampyre will damage him.
Cannot Enter Homes Uninvited: A Vampyre with this debility cannot enter any structure that a person considers to be their home, without the express voluntary invitation of that person. Such Vampyres do not make good thieves.
Casts No Shadow: The Vampyre never casts a shadow, regardless of lighting conditions.
Cadaverous Skin Color: The Vampyre’s skin is sickly pale and slightly blue in hue, even during the day.
Cold As A Corpse: Even during the day, the Vampyre has no body heat. Anyone touching her will know that something is very wrong.
Counting Obsession: Any time the Vampyre is presented with numerous small objects, she must stop whatever she is doing and count them. Throwing rice in front of such a Vampyre will effectively neutralize them. The character should never be allowed to actually see a treasure chest being opened…
Grotesque Facial Features: The Vampyre’s facial features become permanently grotesque, inflicting a -2 penalty on Charisma. Typical changes include heavy eyebrows that meet, an oddly shaped nose, hollow checks, sunken eye sockets, an overly prominent brow,, and pointed ears. Sometimes the face becomes rodent-like, with an overbite, and small, beady eyes. While the changes are not as extreme as those of a full Vampyric Form, they are nonetheless ugly. The Vampyre’s former associates may no longer recognize the creature with his new, Grotesque Facial Features.
Haunted: The Vampyre is tormented by the phantoms of his former victims. It is up the CK to decide whether the phantoms are hallucinations, or the actual souls of those the Vampyre has harmed.
Hairy Palms: Hair grows on the palms of the character’s hands, marking him as one of the Undead. Such a Vampyre is advised to wear gloves at all times.
Horrible Breath: The Vampyre’s breath always stinks like old blood, inflicting a -2 Charisma penalty on the Vampyre if another character can smell his breath.
Must Rest In Native Soil: A Vampyre with this debility must spend at least 1 hour a day per Level resting in the dirt from her original grave.
No Reflection In Mirror: The Vampyre cannot be seen in reflective surfaces, and others will thus have an easy time uncovering her true nature.
Obsessive Love: The Vampyre is always in love with some innocent person of Good alignment. When not in the presence of their beloved, the Vampyre will suffer pangs that inflict a -1 penalty on all their rolls. This love does not preclude the Vampyre feeding on their beloved. If the beloved person ever becomes a Vampyre, or changes to a non-good Alignment, the Vampyre character will lose all romantic interest in her, and fall in love with another Good person.
Permanent Claws: The Vampyre always possesses long, claw-like fingernails, even during the day. On the positive side, the Vampyre can always use their claw attack.
Permanent Fangs: The Vampyre’s canine teeth are permanent enlarged and pointed, regardless of her current form. Such a Vampyre may use their bite attack at any time, but will have great difficulty hiding their condition.
Repelled By Garlic: The Vampyre cannot come within 5′ of garlic bulbs or flowers.
Restored By The Moon: If he suffers from this debility, the Vampyre can only restore his wounds, or Rise From Death, if his body is exposed to moonlight. Otherwise, he remains damaged, or dead.
Revolting To Animals: Most natural animals are disturbed by the presence of a Vampyre with this debility. Disturbed animals will threaten, attack, or flee from the Vampire. The exceptions are wolves, bats, cats, rats, spiders, crows, owls, vultures, goats, moths, and snakes. Horses and dogs particularly hate Vampyres who are Revolting To Animals.
Spreads Disease: Although immune to disease, the Vampyre is a carrier. Anyone bitten by the Vampyre must save versus Constitution, or be infected. The Vampyre with this debility must choose the disease that he spreads, which could be anything from the Plague to Syphilis.
Strange Eyes: The Vampyre’s eyes no longer appear normal, even during the day. Sometimes the eyes become frighteningly bloodshot, with red irises. Other times, the entire eye becomes completely white. The eyes of some Vampyres are even permanently changed to those of an animal, typically a wolf.
Uncontrollable Bloodlust: Any time the Vampyre sees blood she will fly into a berserk rage, rushing to consume the spilled blood, and attacking any bleeding creatures to drain them. Vampyres with this debility cannot retrain themselves from killing their victims.
Vulnerable to Sunlight: The Vampyre suffers 1d8 points of damage per round of exposure to direct sunlight. The Vampyre can still function in human form during the day, but must remain in dark or shaded areas.
Weakness to Iron: Weapons of pure iron are +1 to hit versus the Vampyre, and inflict an additional 1 point of damage per die. The Vampyre will not voluntarily touch pure iron.
Weakness To Silver: Silver weapons +1 to hit versus the Vampyre, and inflict an additional 1 point of damage per die. The Vampyre will not voluntarily touch silver.
Preferred Classes: Libertine, Magician, Gypsy, Fighter, Rogue, Assassin, Wizard, Illusionist
Attribute Adjustment: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -4 Wisdom (Vampyres tend to be physically strong and dexterous even during the day, but are prone to obsession, have little self-control, and no personal connection to the divine).
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common.
Special Abilities: Rise From Death, Undead Immunities, Assume Vampyric Form, Vampyric Powers
Special Weaknesses: Weaker During Daylight, Blood-Lust, Subject To Necromany, Cannot Be Healed, Vulnerable To Holy Water, Subject To Turning, Advancement Penalties, Vampyric Debilities.