Knot of Thorns
The Path of the Vampire
It is not merely enough to be bitten by a vampire. The process of transforming into a true vampire is a long, painful and arduous road. Some are not up to this grueling task and instead the curse overwhelms them. Instead of transforming into a vampire, they instead merely sicken and die or worse, become an almost mindless spawn fit for little more than menial service to an undying master. However, our villains are made of sterner stuff.
To become a true vampire requires an investment of five feats – a major expenditure to be sure. However, the rewards of becoming a vampire are viewed by many as being worth the cost of this ascension.
You have been bitten by a vampire and infected with the curse of undeath. As you sicken, your senses heighten and you become profoundly aware that every day, you are changing into something both more and less than mortal. You have only begun your transformation into the living dead.
Prerequisites: You must be bitten by a vampire.
Benefits: You gain darkvision 30 ft. and the alertness feat, however your Constitution score is lowered by two permanently.
You are dying. You can feel it in very core of your being. Your mortal blood is failing and the vampiric curse is overtaking you. Soon, you will die and rise again as a vampire.
Prerequisites: The Bitten, 3rd level
Benefits: Your natural armor improves +2, your dark-vision improves to 60 ft., you gain a +2 racial bonus to Perception and you gain the toughness feat. However your Constitution score is again lowered by two permanently, you now cast no shadow and have no reflection in a mirror. Further, in full daylight you are sickened.
Vampirism has overtaken you and you have died. However after three days in the ground you have risen from your own death. You are now a fledgling vampire. However, you are still unsure of your powers and only begun to understand the full reprecussions of this dark gift. Still, you are fast as lightning and full of fury. You can barely restrain your thirst for living blood.
Prerequisites: The Bitten, The Dying, 5th level
Benefits: You gain the feats Dodge, Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes. Your Dex score is improved by +2. You are now an undead and have no Constitution score. You gain resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10 in addition to all the normal defensive abilities granted by being an undead. You also gain the special attack Blood Drain (as per the vampire template).
However, you must sleep in a coffin every night, you gain the vampiric weaknesses to daylight (this replaces being sickened by daylight) and running water, and if you ever go more than twenty four hours without feeding on living blood you become sickened until you feed. If you are sickened from lack of food and encounter a living creature with blood in their veins, you must make a DC 12 Will save or immediately try to drain their blood. If you succeed at such a save you do not have to check again for one hour.
If reduced to zero hit points, you fall dead, indistinguishable from a normal corpse. You will remain this way until either you are healed by negative energy or fed blood enough to heal you.
You have been a vampire long enough that you are beginning to be able to control your condition. You need to feed less frequently and you have begun to control your form turning into mist or climbing like a spider.
Prerequisites: The Bitten, The Dying, The Risen, 7th level
Benefits: You gain the feat Combat Reflexes. You gain a +4 racial bonus to Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive and Stealth Checks (the Perception bonus replaces the bonus from the Dying feat). You gain the gaseous form and spider climb special qualities of a vampire (see the vampire template). If reduced to zero hit points, you are still sickened if you do not feed but now you need only feed every three days. However, you now recoil from mirrors and strongly presented holy symbols.
You have mastered your condition of vampirism and are now a true vampire in every sense.
Prerequisites: The Bitten, the Dying, the Risen, The Initiated, 9th level
Benefits: You gain the full benefit and weaknesses of the vampire template.
Aversion to sunlight is probably the most famous vampire weakness. Here is a magic item that can help a vampire participate during daylight hours. The Shroud of the Daywalker can help a vampire function during the day time.
The second problem all vampires must face is that they need to have a coffin readily at hand. They sleep within their coffin and must flee to it if reduced to zero hit points. Lugging around a coffin can be quite an obstacle but is likely a surmountable one. No doubt the vampire will either establish a lair or perhaps bring a carriage with them that contains their coffin and shields it from the light of the sun. Minions can be used for guard duty to secure the wagon when the vampire must be away from the coffin. Though not mentioned in the template, in traditional vampire lore, the coffin can be desecrated and rendered unusable by holy water or the blessings of a holy man.
The third disadvantage is one often forgotten about both in roleplaying games and fiction, but is perhaps one of the most interesting. A vampire cannot enter a private home or dwelling unless invited by someone with the authority to invite them in. It means that the vampire PC must find a way to, by trickery or guile, get invited into these places.
There is one more vampiric challenge – the creation of vampire spawn. An endlessly replenishable supply of CR 4 minions can be unbalancing. However, if you read the template carefully, this can be managed. First, the PC vampire can only control twice its hit dice in spawn. Any additional become free-willed vampires. Most newly created free-willed vampires will try to flee their creator and so will be of no use as minions. CR 4 spawn are unlikely to be terribly useful in combat at level 12 plus when the PCs are likely to actually have minions in their midst. What can you can do is allow minion organizations a one-time bonus of +2 to Ruthless checks made after dark after a vampire joins the party.