There's so much stuff out there that I'm going to try to just go over the main books and dragon articles. I won't discuss the main vampire NPC in D&D, Strahd, as I've already written a guide for him. If you think I missed something major, let me know.
In my opinion, there are two things you should check out if you plan on using a vampire as a major villain in your campaign:
- Van Richten's Guide to Vampires: This 2nd edition sourcebook is brimming over with useful ideas.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula: This movie is, in my opinion, really under-rated. I watched it the other day and it blew my mind. If you are going to run Curse of Strahd, you should most definitely check this out.
This is the basic stuff you should know when running a vampire:
- Those who have their blood drained by a vampire and drop to 0 hit points become a vampiric thrall.
- Vampires must rest in a coffin during the day.
- If they are dropped to 0 hit points, they aren't slain - they assume gaseous form and flee to their coffins. There, they rest and heal.
- Vampires have innate regeneration.
- Can turn into a bat at will.
- They can charm people as per the spell.
- Vampires have the ability to summon hordes of bats, rats, or wolves.
- They recoil from garlic, mirrors and holy symbols.
- Direct sunlight kills them, as does being immersed in running water.
- Holy water damages them.
- The most effective way to kill them is to drive a stake through their heart (which paralyzes them) and then cut off their head.
- There are a ton of vampire variants with all sorts of different powers and abilities.
- Vampires live in two planes at once - the material and the negative material.
- Vampires have an 18/76 strength.
- If it hits an enemy, the enemy loses two levels. Yes, from each attack.
- There's also a note about vampires of the 'eastern world'. They're invisible!
- Creating a thrall involves draining their life energy and then burying them. The thrall rises up after a day. "If the vampire which slew the creature is itself killed, the vampires created by it become free-willed monsters."
This issue has a few articles on undead and vampires.
Hearts of Darkness
We are given a rundown of all the ins and outs of being a vampire. There are a few interesting notes:
- At night, a vampire is invulnerable to most attacks.
- Ingesting food and drink causes them pain. They can only nibble on a few crumbs and sip wine.
- Vampires have no soul, and that is why they have no shadow or reflection.
- Vrykolakas: Greek vampires. The vrykolkas are corpses possessed by demons who like to spread fear.
- Baobhan Sith: Evil demons who appear as young women. They trick their victims into letting them drain all the blood from their victims' bodies.
This article fleshes out undead creatures. It provides vague details on a demonic type of vampire:
Demon Vampire: Demon vampires are "...among the greatest and most evil servants of Orcus." These vampires rise up after being killed by the kiss of a succubus. They don't rest in coffins and they can walk during the day. At night they can summon demon-spawned vampires from the abyss. Sometimes they serve or marry the succubus that slew them.
AD&D 2nd Edition
- They cast no shadow or reflection. They move in complete silence.
- 2e vampires have the ability to spider climb to scale sheer surfaces.
- They recoil from lawful good holy symbols.
- When destroying a vampire, holy wafers must be stuffed in its severed head.
- Vampires can't enter a residence without being invited. Charmed victims can be used to invite the vampire in.
- Deadly Desire: This person gives up a portion of their spirit to the Dark Powers of Ravenloft. They are stripped of their humanity and become vampires. Over centuries, they come to regret the decision and seek out their own destruction.
- The Curse: The person becomes a vampire through a cursed item (like a ring) or someone curses them. Often this type of vampire hates who they have become.
- The Victim: Those slain by a vampire become a vampire.
Drow Vampires: Drow consider it an honor to become a vampire. Their touch drains hit points and their gaze can make enemies become awestruck. They can turn into spiders and assume the form of a poisonous cloud.
Elf Vampire: They transform forests into places of death and decay. They drain Charisma and leave victims with permanent scars. Their own faces are scarred and twisted, causing those seeing them to make a saving throw or be paralyzed with horror (and if you roll a natural one... you die!).
Gnome Vampire: Gnome vampires have a "painful arthritic attack." Yep, they drain Dexterity and cause stiffness to the joints and muscles. Seriously. They can laugh hideously and cause people to feel the effects of a Tasha's hideous laughter spell.
Halfling Vampire: Halfling vampires radiate an aura that fatigues enemies. They can't stand the odor of a smoking pipe, and burning hearths can destroy them.
Illithid Vampire: These are from the high-level Ravenloft adventure Thoughts of Darkness. Vampire mind flayers! They are utterly insane. Their mind blast causes victims to make a madness check.
- They "...employ the wanton garb of a harlot to lure victims into their clutches."
- Vampyres lure some poor sap to their homes, and then they and their vampire friends pounce on him or her. They drink the victim's blood over the course of a few days.
- They travel in packs and are able to have children.
Vampire Blood: It actually does d6 damage if it touches bare skin. If the blood is in a vial and it is exposed to sunlight, it explodes!
Gaseous Form: Vampires can modify their gaseous form, changing it to a thick fog to a thin, almost invisible mist. The book suggests that some vampires may have their coffins in a building with no doors. The vampire enters and leaves simply by passing through a tiny crack in the wall while in gaseous form.
Blood Lust: Some vampires suffer from this curse. The mere sight of blood sends them into a frenzy which can be satisfied only by the ingestion of that source of blood, by any means. Once the vampire drinks the blood, it won't suffer from blood lust for 2d6 turns (1-2 hours).
Using a Stake: The stake must be wood, and should be made from wood that relates to the vampire's personal history. If the stake is removed from the vampire's heart, the vampire will rise again. You have to cut off its head. Attacking with the stake means rolling to hit an AC of -1 (AC 21 in 5e terms). If the monster is immobile (ie, asleep in its coffin), no roll is required.
Sunlight: Fledglings can't use any powers in sunlight, and all they can do is try to get out of it. It dies in a minute and is completely destroyed. Each round, the vampire takes 3d6 damage and the exposed flesh will burst into flame. Ancient vampires might survive in sunlight for up to an hour. Patriarchs can actually walk in sunlight with no ill effects.
Vampires That Don't Drink Blood: The book has a lot of cool ideas on other things a vampire might feed on, including spinal fluid, hearts, memories, or good old-fashioned hit points.
How Often do Vampires Feed?: Fledglings need to drink 12 hit points worth of blood every 24 hours. Patriarchs can live on 6 hit points worth per day.
- The vampire drains the blood of the mate three times, almost to death on each occasion.
- This process causes no pain. In fact, it is "...the most euphoric, ecstatic experience, in comparison to which all other pleasures fade into insignificance."
- Then the vampire lets the mate drink the vampire's own blood.
- The mate goes into a blood frenzy! The vampire may actually have to struggle to survive this process. The mate can only feed for a short time, or they will be driven incurably insane and will die in agony within 24 hours.
- The mate goes into a coma for an hour or two, and then rises as a vampiric bride or groom.
- Usually the mate's sanity isn't completely intact.
- The vampire and the mate share a telepathic bond.
- If a vampire is blinded by a spell or effect, it can shift into its bat form and use sonar. Deafness would shut down the bat's echolocation ability.
- Polymorph spells only last for a minute, and then the vampire resumes whatever form it was in previously.
- Those with evil holy symbols can "turn" a vampire - success means the vampire is under their control! The vampire will obey the letter of the commands, but not the spirit.
- Blessed weapons harm vampires, but do minimal damage.
- 3/4ths of the vampire's body must be submerged in running water for an entire minute the water to kill it. The heart in particular must be under water.
- The vampire uses its 'eye teeth' to open a major vessel, usually in the throat. "Sometimes vampires will choose another major blood vessel such as the femoral artery, on the inside of the thigh near the groin..." Egad.
- Vampires drink the blood like "..a babe drinks its mother's milk."
- Usually a vampire will open a small wound and drinks just a bit of blood. They don't want to kill their victim because they generally don't like creating subservient vampires (potential rivals).
- They can feed from freshly-slain victims, but the blood spoils rapidly. Once four hours have passed, the blood is no good.
- Drinking the blood of animals makes a vampire ill.
- No PC Vampires: This book repeatedly warns DMs not to let PCs become vampires. If they do become vampires, they should turn over their character sheet to the DM and let the DM run them as an NPC. The reason for this is because the character will simply be far too powerful.
They can now dominate a foe - completely controlling them for as long as the vampire spends a standard action.
They still drain 2 levels per hit, and now they gain 5 temporary hit points per level drained.
Dragon Magazine 348 - Bloodlines: Three Variant Vampires
This article gives us a few new types of vampires:
- Savage Vampire: Ogre vampires! Those they slay rise up as zombies under their command. They can turn into animals and can summon animals like bears or crocodiles.
- Shadow Vampire: These vampires can literally travel between shadows as if they were dimension door spells.
- Terror Vampire: These creatures feed on fear. They can suppress their vampiric traits for 7 rounds per day, appearing to be 'normal' living humanoids. Their gaze attack is identical to the eyebite spell which can sicken you, panic you or even put you into a coma. Terror vampires also have a suite of spells they use to mess with people.
A vampire lord has a spiked chain and can use a nasty power when an enemy is bloodied - blood drain, which weakens the foe and heals the vampire for 46 points.
Heroes of Shadow
- A vampire character can actually take healing surges from willing characters during a rest.
- When bloodied, vampires gain regeneration equal to their Charisma modifier.
- When they kill or bloody an enemy, a Vryloka can gain temporary hit points, move or gain a +2 to hit.
- They have eyes that turn red when angered or excited.
- Most of them have red hair and pale skin.
- Their origin involves a Red Witch who gave the original Vrylokas a blood-bonding ritual. It gave them the power of vampire without the taint of undeath. Some think the Red Witch and the Raven Queen are connected somehow.
- As they gain levels, Vrylokas gain the ability to turn into a "bloodwolf" (a shadow wolf with red eyes). They also eventually gain the ability to fly by assuming the form of a hazy red and black shadow.
- 5e vampires have extremely strong regeneration. They train 20 hit points per round! Sunlight does 20 radiant damage per round.
- They take 20 acid damage per round in running water.
- 5e vampires get two attacks per round. Ideally, they grapple you as part of their unarmed strike, and then bite you. The bite reduces your hit point maximum and the vampire regains that amount of hit points.
- They get legendary actions, which take place at the end of other creature's turns. They can actually make another unarmed strike/grapple and a bite before their next turn.
- Their lair has a lot of regional effects, including a large population of bats, rats and wolves, withered plants, shadows that are gaunt and seem to move on their own, and creeping fog.
To gear up for Curse of Strahd, I watched a bunch of vampire movies. Many of them are Dracula films, as that's what the Strahd story is similar to.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
|Gary Oldman as Dracula|
I can't express just how dirty and zany this thing is but I'm going to try: Dracula's brides (one of which is a topless Monica Belluci) eat a baby! And then we get an extreme close-up of Keanu Reeves in full-on Bill and Ted mode screaming and gnashing his teeth in a truly comical fashion.
This movie is really fun. It's too long, but there's enough good parts to make it worth watching.
|Richard Roxburgh as Dracula|
|Luke Evans as Dracula|
Nosferatu Phantom Der Nacht
|Klaus Kinski as Dracula|
Interview With The Vampire
|Kirsten Dunst as Claudia|
If you haven't seen this movie, the idea of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as vampires may not seem like something worth seeing, but this movie is really awesome. It gives you a very viable alternate view on vampires, particularly on how and why they make other vampires and the rules in which they govern themselves.
This movie also has a truly great vampire NPC - a little girl vampire named Claudia. Her mind is old, but her body is eternally young.
Let the Right One In
This film has a really cool take on what happens to a vampire when they enter a residence uninvited. This is one that will stick with you after you see it, especially if you read up on it a bit. I haven't seen the American remake of this, but if you can handle subtitles you should definitely check this version out. Here's the trailer. As of this writing, it is on Netflix.
Mina Murray from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
|Mr. Hyde is fond of Mina|
In Alan Moore's comic, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mina is the main character. Mina was bitten by Dracula, but Dracula is slain and thus the vampiric curse is lifted from her (in the movie version, she is a vampire).
Alan's take on vampirism is very amusing. As a result of Dracula's feeding, Mina has these burn scars on her neck. His take seems to be that vampirism is similar to a sexually transmitted disease - an idea that I find hilarious.
Also, there's this underpinning notion that since Mina's fleeting encounter with a vampire, her husband just doesn't do it for her (although in the comic, he has rejected her because of her scars). You get the feeling that if given the choice, she'd pick the vampire over her husband despite all the baggage that comes with it. Now she's out in the world searching for similar thrills from other adventurers and monsters.
Vampire Name Generator
Hack and Slash: Ecology of the Vampire
3rd Edition Vampire Template
Dice of Doom Vampire Overview
Types of Vampires Wiki