The Vampire, Early Draft

It’s October which means, here in the U.S., it’s time for Halloween.

Around a year ago at this time I created one of my first homebrew classes ever (maybe my very first ever) which was a vampire prestige class. Time did not treat the class well, however, and looking back on it I found it extremely obtuse and out of step with the design of 5e. I have spent much of the last couple of weeks trying to salvage the good ideas (of which there were definitely a few) and strip away the chaff (of which there was definitely a lot). The result is this vampire prestige class.

This prestige class incorporates a lot of very outlandish design elements for 5e – taking away natural Hit Die restoration and allowing alternative uses for Hit Dice being the big outliers. We’d like to get the vampire prestige class up on the DM’s Guild before the end of the month but we know it needs the feedback of our readership to get it to the standard we like to have before that happens. So give us your feedback! In particular we are looking to hear your balance concerns & your suggestions for additional Bloodborne Powers (or maybe even Curses!).

And without further ado…[original link edited, now links to DM’s Guild entry]

the Vampire, a Prestige Class

If you haven’t seen it yet you might also be interested in checking out our dhampir race, available on the DM’s Guild, for roleplaying the children of vampires (now updated to sync up with the Vampire Prestige Class).

As always, if you’re a fan of the Sterling Verming Adventuring Co. don’t forget to subscribe to our subreddit, follow us on twitter, and support us on Patreon!

4 thoughts on “The Vampire, Early Draft

  1. First off I love the flavor here. The fact that you have to kill more powerful vampires to level up adds both a reason for PCs to still be working together as they both can have the same enemies, and it mechanically gives rise to the backstabbing and mistrust indicative of vampires in a lot of fiction. I think the use of the class level as the spell bonus is a far way to let everyone use the magic effectively. I do have a few criticisms and questions though:

    1. How do vampires become level 5? Does diablerie allow you to eventually become the level of the vampire you kill or do you just gain the ability to level up once? Do higher level vampires who aren’t level 5 get anything for killing lower level vampires?

    2. I can see a number of builds that would use the first two levels or so (like a dual wielding Feral barbarian making three 1d12 claw attacks) but beyond that I’m not so sure. Martial builds will be hurt by the smaller hit point gain and the use of their hit dice as a resource. While spellcasters will lose out on spell advancement. The one saving grace is the max ability score increase but I don’t know how often that will be chased.

    3. How do you want vampires to interact with turn undead, specifically the destroy undead part? There’s no set way to determine CR based on character level that know of so stating that somewhere might be worth while.

    4. How does blood frenzy interact with the dead and dying? If an opponent has 0 hp and is unconscious can I hit them once or three times once for each death save? Does it work like vampirism where the body just has to be fresh? The DMG and PH are not as specific with npc death as they are with player death so you may need to do some work defining targets or vampires might spend 9 actions in a row after every combat reclaiming all of their hit dice off of one spell slot.

    5. I’m worried about the bloodborne powers that increase spell DC. A situation could easily come about where a Wizard Vampire can get their spell DC above the highest possible roll of a lot of creatures or at least increase it so high only a few creatures even have a chance. A Wizard 5/Vampire 2 can have an average DC in the 17-18 range if they are spending hd. And at Vampire 4 it increases again to 19-20. Because it seems relatively simple to regain hd, you don’t even have to wait for a long rest, you can churn out spells and cantrips with way higher DC than you should have all the time. If we want to get really crazy we can throw in Magus of the arcane order instead of Wizard and start adding d8 to our DC. A Magus 13/Vampire 4 can cast illusion and fear spells with an average DC of 24 and a max of 28 at least 13 times a day. That’s so high that even the CR 17+ monsters only have a 5-10% success with few exceptions.

    I hope this all makes sense as I’ve been writing it in stops and starts between classes. Let me know if I need to explain something further.

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    1. Hi Zack, thanks for all your questions and comments!

      1. You have to commit diablerie against vampires higher level than you to level up so a 4th level vampire has to kill and commit diablerie on a 5th level vampire to become one his/herself. Vampires at 4th level or lower have no reason to commit diablerie on vampires 4th level and lower unless they want to permanently kill a rival.

      2. The vampire is balanced against the idea that spellcasters won’t be able to leverage high Hit Dice from their base class for crazy results and non-spellcasters won’t have extra spell slots to use their Bloodborne Powers indiscriminantly. I think after 2 levels there are a lot of good reasons to keep going up, not least of which being that you get more spell slots with which you can drain hit dice from other creatures.

      3. I actually had not thought of that and will have to do so.

      4. I am not totally clear on what you mean by this question. What is a blood frenzy?

      5. I understand the concern but I think it’s a pretty big resource to spend and somewhat of a gamble at that. If I have Disquieting Presence and a creature makes their fear save by 6 I am probably going to hesitate to spend a HD for the possibility of making them fail on a very lucky roll. Even if I do, regardless, I am spending a HD to make sure one spell lands which, eventually, will cost me another spell to get back. I think the constant strain between spell slots and Hit Dice is what’s going to keep these powers in check but, ultimately, a smart player will be able to get good effect out of them. I will definitely think more about this balance concern though.

      Thanks for all your thoughts and feedback! Any suggestions for additional Bloodborne Powers?

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      1. Sorry about the confusion and thank you for answering back. For number 4 I was talking about Blood Feast, and was wondering what the ruling should be for using it after a combat encounter instead of during.

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  2. For new Bloodborne Powers I have 2 basic ideas. A power that lets you take on a bat form for maybe a hit die roll number of minutes and a Nobility power that prevents creatures from relizeing they were charmed.

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