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View Full Version : [3.5] Lower LA Vampire with same fluff and nice crunch (Please Critique)



Chrizzt
2009-09-18, 08:11 AM
As I am not overly happy with the Vampire templates I have so far stumpled over, I have tried to design my own one.

My intent is to give players the possibility to be vampire-like in fluff and crunch, without being overly powerful. Well, the power scales with increasing HD, but it will not get additional abilities. Also, the template should offer some roleplay-wise power, for example with creating some spawn. A player who want's to establish him- or herself as a master (or mistress) vampire should be able to do so, however in a reasonable and sound manner. Due to the stationary nature of a vampire (bound to coffin, difficulties in travelling) those vampire minions could well guard the home of the player, but will perhaps be less useful in dungeon crawl etc.

The vampire I envision is more difficult to destroy as he has a coffin to regain his health after reduced to 0 hitpoints, he has some supernatural abilities to influence others (perhaps to many and still too powerful), can turn into animals for traveling and utility purposes and can suck blood. How the vampire fights his or her foes mainly depends on the vampire's abilities it had acquired while living. The template itself for example does not grant the infamous Energy Drain nor any other natural attacks (except grappling and blood drain). It also does not give additional stat boni, but this is mainly for LA reasons.

I do not know how powerful this template is in terms of Level Adjustment, therefore I will leave it to the noble reader in order to make suggestions. Based on these suggestions I will work on the template and given time post the newer version. My goal is to create a template that allows the player to roleplay a vampire and use its abilities in terms of raw numbers and dices, but without giving too much away from their classes. Therefore, LA +2 or +3 at highest would be nice.

I can imagine, thatmy first version of the vampire is quite badly designed, I beg your pardon for that. It will improve over time.

Also, please note that I have not yet made the whole stuff RAW-proof. I'm not an english native speaker and I guess there are many wordings which can be used as a loop hole. The whole rule-lawyering will come once I'm sure about its abilities and LA. I have started with the MM Vampire and have added and deleted as I saw fit (especially to keep a certain form of formatting and writing style).

Vampire template first and rawest version

Creating A Vampire
"Vampire" is an acquired template that can be added to any humanoid creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature).
A vampire uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type
The creature’s type changes to undead (augmented). Do not recalculate base attack bonus, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.

Hit Dice
Increase all current and future Hit Dice to d12s.

Speed
Same as the base creature.

Special Attacks
A vampire retains all the special attacks of the base creature and gains those described below. Saves have a DC of 10 + ˝ vampire’s HD + vampire’s Cha modifier unless noted otherwise.

Blood Drain (Ex)
A vampire can suck blood from a living victim with its fangs by making a successful grapple check. If it pins the foe, it drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution drain each round the pin is maintained. On each such successful attack, the vampire gains 5 temporary hit points.

Influencing Gaze (Su)
A vampire can charm an opponent just by looking onto his or her eyes. This is similar to a gaze attack, except that the vampire must use a standard action, and those merely looking at it are not affected. Anyone the vampire targets must succeed on a Will save or fall instantly under the vampire’s influence as though by a charm person spell (caster level equal to the vampires HD). A vampire can use this ability a number of times equal to half his or her HD per day.

Influencing Whisper (Su)
A vampire can plant a suggestion in an opponent just by whispering or speaking to the opponent. The vampire must use a standard action to activate this ability. Anyone the vampire targets must succeed on a Will save or fall instantly under the vampire’s influence as though by a suggestion spell (caster level equal to the vampires HD). A vampire can use this ability a number of times equal to quarter his or her HD per day.

Create Spawn (Su)
A humanoid humanoid slain by a vampire’s blood drain can be forced or steered (e.g. via diplomacy, charm or suggestion) by the vampire to drink his or her blood, thus rising as a vampire 1d4 days after burial. This leaves the donor vampire in the weakened and sickened condition for 24 hours, even if the vampire is normally immune to such conditions.

The new vampire is under the command of the vampire that created it, subsequently called the master vampire, and remains enslaved until its master’s destruction. At any given time a vampire may have enslaved spawn totalling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit are created as free-willed vampires or vampire spawn.

A vampire that is enslaved may create and enslave spawn of its own at his masters permission, so a master vampire can control a number of lesser vampires in this fashion. However, those spawn count fully against the amount of HD the master vampire can control. A vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again.

(I have tried to replace to very powerful Dominate ability with less potent yet handy and flavourful forms of manipulation. The very powerful Energy Drain has been dropped completely in order to reduce the LA)

Special Qualities
A vampire retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those described below.

Alternate Form (Su)
A vampire can assume the shape of a bat or wolf as a standard action. While in its alternate form, the vampire loses its Influencing Gaze ability, but it gains the natural weapons and extraordinary special attacks of its new form. It can remain in that form until it assumes another or until the next sunrise.
(This ability is mainly for utility and flavour reasons)

Bond Coffin (Su)
A vampire must create a special bond with his coffin in order to use it for fast healing after he has been reduced to 0 hit points. A vampire uses a ritual that lasts 1 hour and involves his own blood to create such a bond. The special nature of this ritual limits the amount of coffins a vampire can bond with. A vampire can bond with 1 coffin for every 4 hit dice he has.
(I have set a limitation on the amounts of coffins in order to limit his fast healing near-destruction. A vampire is a vampire, after all, and not a lich. The more powerful a vampire becomes, however, the more coffins and the more difficult to destroy he becomes, though)

Fast Healing (Ex)
A vampire heals 1 points of damage each round so long as it has at least 1 hit point. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, it automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape. It must reach its coffin home within 1 hour or be utterly destroyed.

The vampire can cover a distance in miles in gaseous form equal to (10 + the vampires HD)*600/5280.

Any additional damage dealt to a vampire forced into gaseous form has no impact on the vampire. Once at rest in its coffin, a vampire is helpless. It regains 1 hit point after 1 hour, then is no longer helpless and resumes healing at the rate of 1 hit point per round.

(I have reduced fast healing from 5 to 1 in order to lower his LA. Fast healing 1 still allows the vampire to recover for example 50 hitpoints in 5 minutes, which is still nice and not overpowering in combat. Concerning the travelling distance to the coffin, I hope I have figured out the correct formula, as I am accustomed to meters instead of miles and feet)

Gaseous Form (Su)
A vampire can assume gaseous form as the spell (caster level equal to the vampires HD), but it has a fly speed of 10 feet plus 1 additional foot per HD with perfect manoeuvrability. It can assume and dismiss gaseous form as a standard action and remain in gaseous form for a duration of 2 minutes per HD per day. This duration need not be consecutive. The vampire may break it up into increments as small as 1 round if he so desires.

If reduced to 0 hit points, a vampire automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape, even if it has already depleted its daily duration of gaseous form. If returning to its coffin forces the vampire to stay in gaseous form for a duration longer than it has normally left over from its daily uses of Gaseous form per day, it can do so. However, in this case the vampire must rest 24 hours before gaining 1 hit point. Afterwards it resumes healing at the rate of 1 hit point per round.

(The stronger the vampire becomes, the faster he can fly in his gaseous form. In addition, this affects the distance between the vampire and his coffin. Less powerful undead are therefore more easily slain as they are more at risk from being too far away from their even less numerous coffins)

Spider Climb (Ex)
A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.
(I am willing to drop this ability if it could help to further lower the LA. After a certain party or power level in the campaign, however, and flying becomes more usual, Spider Climb loses its efficiency and should not so much contribute to LA)

Turn Resistance (Ex)
A vampire has +2 turn resistance.
(I don’t know how to regard Turn Resistance in terms of LA)

Vampire Weaknesses (Ex)
See below.

Whisper of the Mist (Su)
A vampire is considered to be constantly under an effect equal to the cantrip Message cast by a sorcerer of level equal to the vampires HD. A vampire can use this ability even in gaseous form.

Wild Empathy (Su)
This is exactly like the Druid ability of the same name, except that the vampire uses its HD instead of actual druid levels.
(Instead of Children of the Night a vampire now uses Wild Empathy. Its now more versatile, scales better with HD and levels and is more long-term focused. Why deny a vampire of having animal servants?)
Alignment
Any non-good. Vampires tend toward any evil, however, as they risk killing their prey with their blood drain ability.

Advancement
By character class.

Level Adjustment
?

Vampire Weaknesses

Repelling a Vampire
Vampires are not able to tolerate the odor of garlic and will not enter an area laced with it.

Slaying a Vampire
Reducing a vampire’s hit points to 0 or lower incapacitates it but doesn’t always destroy it (see the note on fast healing). Some attacks or conditions can slay vampires. Exposing any vampire to direct sunlight confuses it: It can take only a single move action or attack action in the first round of exposure and is destroyed completely in the next round if it cannot escape, reduced to a pile of ash.

Similarly, immersing a vampire in running water robs it of one-third of its hit points each round until it is destroyed at the end of the third round of immersion.

Beheading a resting vampire in its coffin slays the vampire.

Driving a stake through a vampire’s heart leaves the vampire unconscious, even if the vampire is normally immune to that condition. Removing the stake causes the vampire to awake.

(I have dropped the symbol of faith stuff, but I’m still considering this part)


Blood dependency
A vampire needs to feed on the blood of the living. Every day a vampire has to gain at least five temporary hit points due to his Blood Drain (Ex) in order to satisfy his needs. Failure to do so forces the vampire to succeed on a fortitude save (DC 15 + number of days without proper feeding). If the vampire succeeds, he suffers no penalties for this day. If he fails his saving throw, he gains a cumulative -1 penalty on his strength, dexterity, and wisdom stats until he has gained via his Blood Drain ability an amount of 5 temporary hit points per previous day without feeding.

If a vampire has reached strength, dexterity and wisdom of lesser than 6, he can feed on blood not drained by himself, but for example, blood left from a slaughtered animal to restore his strength, dexterity and wisdom to 6. Afterwards, he again needs to use his Blood Drain ability.

If a vampire reaches strength, dexterity and wisdom 0, he is reduced to a shrivelled form resembling a human body. If at least one litre of fresh blood is poured on that shrivelled form, the vampire regains 6 point of strength, dexterity and wisdom, and can try to regain his strength via blood drain.

(As a further weakness, if a vampire denies himself of blood for too long, he becomes weaker, until he is practically dead, but can still recover with the help of others. A vampire who has been locked in his tomb for years cannot harm anyone until he is reanimated.

A vampire with strength and dex of lesser than 6 is not so likely to be able to hunt and is enough weakened, that even old blood can give him some limited strength.)

Other stuff I had in mind but have not yet decited upon them:
1. Scent (You cannot hide from me, mortal)
2. Boni on Spot and Listen to enforce even more their sharp senses
Both points however may just be needlessly raising the LA

Yar
2009-09-18, 09:11 PM
Well the vampire templay you have is about as powerful as a standard vampire. Maybe phase out some vampire powers to lower the LA.

Haarkla
2009-09-18, 09:40 PM
As I am not overly happy with the Vampire templates I have so far stumpled over, I have tried to design my own one.

My intent is to give players the possibility to be vampire-like in fluff and crunch, without being overly powerful.
I agree with you. I myself have been designing my own template along similar lines, which is now nearly complete, and will be posted here in the next few weeks.



Create Spawn (Su)
A humanoid humanoid slain by a vampire’s blood drain can be forced or steered (e.g. via diplomacy, charm or suggestion) by the vampire to drink his or her blood, thus rising as a vampire 1d4 days after burial. This leaves the donor vampire in the weakened and sickened condition for 24 hours, even if the vampire is normally immune to such conditions.
This may need rewording, how can you drink the vampires blood if you have been slain? Is weakened a 3.5e condition?



It must reach its coffin home within 1 hour or be utterly destroyed.

The vampire can cover a distance in miles in gaseous form equal to (10 + the vampires HD)*600/5280.

(I hope I have figured out the correct formula, as I am accustomed to meters instead of miles and feet)
Your formula appears to be correct.


Spider Climb (Ex)
A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.
(I am willing to drop this ability if it could help to further lower the LA. After a certain party or power level in the campaign, however, and flying becomes more usual, Spider Climb loses its efficiency and should not so much contribute to LA)
Phrapse you could give this ability only to vampires above a certain HD?



Whisper of the Mist (Su)
A vampire is considered to be constantly under an effect equal to the cantrip Message cast by a sorcerer of level equal to the vampires HD. A vampire can use this ability even in gaseous form.
I like this a lot. Can I copy?


Wild Empathy (Su)
This is exactly like the Druid ability of the same name, except that the vampire uses its HD instead of actual druid levels.
(Instead of Children of the Night a vampire now uses Wild Empathy. Its now more versatile, scales better with HD and levels and is more long-term focused. Why deny a vampire of having animal servants?)
I dont like this. In my imagination vampires are unnatural creatures that repel most animals, not influence them.


Vampire Weaknesses
Are your vampires able to cross running water?

GallóglachMaxim
2009-09-19, 12:10 AM
Wild Empathy (Su)
This is exactly like the Druid ability of the same name, except that the vampire uses its HD instead of actual druid levels.
(Instead of Children of the Night a vampire now uses Wild Empathy. Its now more versatile, scales better with HD and levels and is more long-term focused. Why deny a vampire of having animal servants?)

Repelling a Vampire
Vampires are not able to tolerate the odor of garlic and will not enter an area laced with it.

(I have dropped the symbol of faith stuff, but I’m still considering this part)
[/spoiler]

Wild Empathy should be limited to certain vampire-associated animals (wolves, rats, bats and so on), the idea works better than the original version, but it doesn't make sense for a vampire to be able to influence a bear or eagle or anything else not usually associated with them.

I would recommend putting in something about being repelled by holy symbols, not only is it an important part of popular 'vampireness', but it fits in with the existing anti-undead mechanics of holy classes. Plus, knowing what players are like, they'll probably go straight for the holy symbol anyway, and then be annoyed if it doesn't work for an arbitrary reason.

Other than that, I like it. Can't think of a situation where I'd want a lower-ECL vampire, but if one came up I'd look into this again.

Chrizzt
2009-09-19, 05:18 AM
Thank you for your kind replies. I appreciate any sort of feedback : ) I will incorporate your counsil on the next version of the template.

@Yar
While it may appear so at the first glance, I have still dropped the powerful energy drain, all of the stat boni and natural armor improvement, all bonus feats like improved initiative and the dominate at will ability, and have tweaked and mostly weakened his other abilities. I'm quite sure that this should result in a considerable lower LA. :smallwink:

@Haarkla
Of course you are right with the Create Spawn ability. I have already a solution in mind, thank you for your clue! I also like your counsel regarding Spider Climb. I will set it to be available from 10 HD, perhaps, as then a sorcerer has Overland Flight available. Hm.. Maybe from 7 HD already, i have still to make up my mind.

Concerning "Whisper of the Mist (Su)":
I'm glad you like it! Please go ahead and use it for your template! I think everyone has a little different approach to vampires, so I'm happy I can contribute to another version :smallsmile:


@GallóglachMaxim and Haarkla
Concerning wild empathy:
Haarkla, while I agree that a vampire can be fearsome to animals, I have strongly the stereotype dracula in mind, which was able to coerxe wolves and horses into being his minions and do his bidding. Wild empathy still may not be enough to tell the horse to go to town, fetch a certain person and bring it back. Maybe I will give him the ability to speak with animals once per day or the like. Again, I want to keep the whole template flavorful and not too overloaden.

GallóglachMaxim, I will perhaps limit the list of animals, but I'm not sure how. If a vampire can cope with a horse, as above, why shouldn't he be able to touch a bear with his own inner beast. Do you think restricting Wild Empathy to mammals only would do the job?

Concerning weaknesses of the vampire:
GallóglachMaxim, I agree with you about the holy symbol stuff. It's too "vampirish" to be left aside.

Haarkla:
My vampire can cross waters, by transforming into a bat or into a cloud of mist and flying over it. If it is running water he risks death if the simply wades through. I know that a river is now not really limiting a vampire in his mobility, but I never understood why a vampire should not be able to simply fly over a river...

In addition, at least in the current version the vampire is able to enter houses even without permission of the owners, just as any normal rogue can (if he can find a way). The reasion is that, if a player wants to use the template, he should be able to join sneaky infiltration missions. The vampire already has some weaknesses, though I will expand them, I suppose.

GallóglachMaxim
2009-09-19, 08:57 AM
GallóglachMaxim, I will perhaps limit the list of animals, but I'm not sure how. If a vampire can cope with a horse, as above, why shouldn't he be able to touch a bear with his own inner beast. Do you think restricting Wild Empathy to mammals only would do the job?


Maybe give the player a choice of creatures when they acquire the vampire template, make it a quirk of background/location/personality or the like which animals can be influenced. It could be an interesting way of adding flavour to the character. Not sure on the best way to do this, maybe by type (Mammals, Reptiles, even going into Vermin [I'm not sure if there's any vampire background which would fit with vermin empathy, I just like the idea, sort of like the Children of Winter in Eberron]), or one choice of creature per X HD, what do you think?

RelentlessImp
2009-09-19, 09:40 AM
Regarding holy symbols; one bit of fluff I've always enjoyed (a'la Dark Tower, V:tM and a few others) is that a holy symbol by itself isn't enough; the holder of the symbol has to have faith in what the symbol represents, ie, the associated deity. Maybe include that as a variable weakness.

I'm not sure how it would work mechanically, but it could lead to some interesting roleplay opportunities. Maybe it shouldn't have any real mechanics, just be something discussed between the player and DM if they come across a vampire. A disenfranchised Cleric, for instance, regaining his faith when the power of his deity roars forth from the holy symbol and repels the vampire would make for a dramatic scene.

As it stands, I'd rate this an LA +3 - but the Vampire template in the MM should be that anyways, instead of an LA +8. The biggest thing that jacks the Vampire's LA is the undead type, which is really very powerful (host of immunities, including immunity vs Fort save effects) but not worth much in the way of Level Adjustment. Necropolitan (Libris Mortis) manages to get it down to a manageable level.

A much more reasonable LA +1 or +2 template would be; undead type, bond coffin, fast healing 1-2 (or a percentage, such as 5%), whisper of the mist, blood dependency, turn resistance (HD-based adjustment, +1 for every 2 or 3 HD the Vampire possesses) the host of weaknesses and some appropriate stat adjustments (+ to STR, DEX, and CHA, in the 2-4 range of each).

It tops out around the upper end of a +2 LA (with the higher adjustments), gives you a thematic vampire, and doesn't completely cripple you for what you get.

sciencepanda
2009-09-19, 11:20 PM
Hmm, that's weird. My first thought was to suggest that Wild Empathy only affect vermin. Vampires having control over swarms of rats and the like is something that's pretty much always come standard with the mythology.