Vampirism (4e Variant Rule)
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Vampirism is both a gift and a curse, a double edged blade where one edge represents the vast amounts of power one who has been afflicted with Vampirism can achieve, the other representing the hunger, the loss of sanity and monstrosity one can become when afflicted.
In this article players and DM’s alike are given a number of options for playing Vampire characters as-well as hints and tip role-playing the slow corrosion of the mind, the ever present hunger and the thirst so much like a drug addiction that haunts a vampires every minute.
Vampires In General
If your character is or is about to become a vampire, keep a few things in mind about these champions of the night.
Vampires can travel in both covens and by themselves. A solitary vampire is usually stronger, younger, and much less intelligent than a coven vampire. Covens are started by powerful vampires, often resulting in a "family" of sorts, where vampire thralls serve their blood-crazed overlords.
In Edition 3.5, there are several rules to being a vampire. Vampires cannot cross running water unless they're in a ship. They are bound to their coffins. They can't exist in the sun. They don't like garlic. If your DM is playing Edition 3.5, these rules may very well apply to you and you ought to treat them very seriously.
Vampires need people. Because of this, you're probably not going to encounter a vampire in the middle of a sunny desert. You may find them in forests, where they've enslaved a small town, or maybe even in a vampire kingdom, where people are cattle. Most often, vampires exist in densely populated areas where death is common and people mind their own business. The darkness, the chaos, and the, ah, abundance of drink are all enticing to a vampire. If a coven settles in such an area, you can bet your 10-foot-poles that they will protect this area from other vampires, not out of concern for the citizens, but out of concern for their own food supply.
Vampires value secrecy. If every Tom the Rogue, Jorik the Impaler, and Elirienda the Sorceress knows that the Count le Bloodfrost is a vampire, then the Count isn't going to be around much longer. Paladins, clerics of good-aligned deities, and adventurers are everywhere, and vampires are well aware of this fact. So unless a vampire is completely secure in their surroundings and protection, don't expect to find one easily. If you end up a vampire, don't tell anyone, or your DM might have a paladin's Smite Evil with your name on it.
Becoming a Vampire
One thing a player must realize before deciding to play a Vampire is that this is going to make things harder for their character. Vampires are monsters, and not many people react well to monsters in their midst. Vampire players should expect priests of good deities to look at them in disgust and possibly even try and end their life, so players may wish to keep their character's curse (or gift, however they view it) a secret.
In order to become a Vampire one must first be afflicted with Vampirism. Some DMs may prefer to think of vampirism as a curse, others as a disease. This "vampire's disease" is called Porphyric Hemophilia. and is caused by the disease entering the blood. This can mean that a player has either been bitten/scratched by a vampire or drunk the blood of a Vampire. If the DM prefers to think of Vampirism as curse (perhaps released by some kind of evil deity) the rules are a little more vague. It may be that a blood ritual of some kind is necessary, or even some dark spell of sanguimancy, or blood magic. At any rate, consult with your DM before you decide to be a vampire, as there may be additional requirements for the transformation.
Creating a Vampire
If you want your character to be afflicted with Vampirism, you can choose to be afflicted when you create your character – or you can be infected later, after consulting with your DM.
Because of the nature of Vampirism, some creatures do not fully embrace the affliction. A vampire may choose to deny themselves blood and thus weaken both themselves and their vampiric powers. Vampire players ought to remember that without blood, they will die. If a player is infected with vampirism but does not wish to harm the innocent, they may ask other players to "donate" blood to keep their companion alive. Some vampires choose to fully embrace the power available to them, reveling in their new dark gifts if not entirely casting aside their life before the disease invaded their body.
Vampires are bloodthirsty in a literal sense, and players who wish to have their characters fully embrace the life of a vampire should really consider the social repercussions. A vampire choosing to prey on the innocent will, eventually, attract notice and possibly a bounty. However, a vampire who chooses to give in does not have the discipline of a vampire denying themselves. Without daily amounts of blood, a vampire used to gorging will slowly wither, his mind corroding every passing moment. Eventually, if a vampire fails the Wills save, they will find themselves drinking to their heart's content as they transform into a mindless beast.
The kind of commitment vampirism brings is that of forgetting part of yourself, forgetting what you once where before the affliction and looking only to the future, to what it will grant you in return for feeding it, giving it the blood it requires so that it can thrive on you and slowly making you less alive every day.
Vampirism will not change your appearance into an undead creature of blood and madness--- at first. The immediate change is that your features will become feral, wolf-like, and predatorial. Your canine teeth, of course, will now doubly function as fangs. However, years of murder and avoiding sunlight will make a vampire pale, the eyes sharp, and the nails bloody. Don't even talk about getting the bloodstains out of your clothes and armor.
Characters who embrace this life may use the following options.
Characters afflicted with vampirism may take multiclass feats to gain additional powers. See Creature of the Thirst for details.