Monday, December 17, 2007

Dark Tide: True Vampires

The Dark Tide is a name for a gothic vampire-hunting setting I worked on with another fellow for a time- perhaps we'll have a finished d20 Modern supplement to show for it someday. At any rate, one of my creations for the setting was a sort of alternate vampire conception, the heaviest inspiration for which was manga Hellsing. Read on for the template and some related material.

Creation: A True Vampire is created when a human possessing sufficient force of will has their blood drained by another True Vampire or a No Life King.
Appearance: At first True Vampires appear just as they did in life. However, their true appearance often changes over time; those who have seen several centuries often appear notably greyed and emaciated, while those who have gone berserk too often tend to have hard, feral features remniscent of wolves. Their are a number of other subtle clues; most vampires cast no shadows and do not appear in mirrors, as well as the fact that their eyes are red and in fact emit a small amount of light.

“Vampire” is an acquired template that can be added to any humanoid or monstrous 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 humanoid). 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. If the base creature has a swim speed, the vampire retains the ability to swim and is not vulnerable to immersion in running water (see below).
Armor Class: The base creature’s natural armor bonus improves by +3.
Attack: A vampire retains all the attacks of the base creature and also gains a slam attack if it didn’t already have one. If the base creature can use weapons, the vampire retains this ability. A creature with natural weapons retains those natural weapons. A vampire fighting without weapons uses either its slam attack or its primary natural weapon (if it has any). A vampire armed with a weapon uses its slam or a weapon, as it desires.
Full Attack: A vampire fighting without weapons uses either its slam attack (see above) or its natural weapons (if it has any). If armed with a weapon, it usually uses the weapon as its primary attack along with a slam or other natural weapon as a natural secondary attack.
Damage: Vampires have a slam attack, dealing 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
Special Attacks: A vampire retains all the special attacks of the base creature and gains those described below. Saves have a DC of 10 + 1/2 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.
Create Spawn (Su): A humanoid or monstrous humanoid whose Constitution is drained to 0 or lower by a vampire will rise again in one of two forms. If the victim was a "dog", they rise again as a ghoul 1d4 rounds after their death (See the Ghoul entry). If the victim was a "human", they instead slowly transform into a vampire, reawakening 2d10 hours after their transformation and immediately entering a blood fury (see below).
Special Qualities: A vampire retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those described below.
Blood Fury (Ex): In an action that is extremely dangerous to both their enemies and themselves, a vampire may spend two point's worth of blood to draw upon their savage inner instincts and enter a berserk rage. This is a free action that may be performed at will, but a vampire must also make a DC 15 will save to avoid berserking involuntary whenever they lose more than half their remaining hit points to a single attack. While in a blood fury, a vampire gains a +8 bonus to Strength, a +4 bonus to Dexterity, a +3 bonus to their natural armor, 3 additional points of Fast Healing, 2 temporary hit points per level, and a bite attack. This bite attack deals 1d6 points of damage plus the vampire's strength modifier; a vampire that successfully deals damage with a bite attack may attempt to initiate a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. (Note that the circumstances in which a vampire may drain blood are unchanged) While in a blood fury, a vampire cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except for Balance, Escape Artist, Intimidate, and Tumble), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat he has except Combat Expertise, item creation feats, and metamagic feats. A vampire remains in a blood fury for a number of rounds equal to their level, though they may simply choose to renew the berserk state once more. A vampire may prematurely end his blood fury with a DC 15 will save, attemptable once per round; the berserk state also ends prematurely if the vampire is reduced to 0 hit points or less. At the end of the the blood fury, the vampire loses the various modifiers and restrictions as well as 2 hit points per character level. In addition, the blood fury has another dangerous drawback. Whenever a vampire enters or renews a blood fury, they lose 4 points of intelligence, wisdom and charisma. The amount of points lost is halved, rounding down, every hour that the vampire goes without entering a blood fury. When the penalty would be reduced except that it has already reached -1, the vampire instead must make a will save (DC 10+the number of hours they've spent in a weakened mental state). If they succeed the penalty is negated, but if they fail the final -1 penalty to all three ability scores is permanent. If the the penalties from a blood fury ever equal or exceed one of the vampire's mental ability scores, they immediately fall unconscious and must make another DC 15 will save or reawaken the next round as vampire spawn (See the Vampire Spawn entry).
Blood Reserve (Su): Vampires's bodies do not naturally produce blood; they must steal it from others. A vampire's supply of blood is dependent upon their strength and dexterity scores; every point's worth of blood they spend is represented by a -1 penalty to both scores. These penalties stack and can only be healed by draining points of constitution, on a 1 for 1 basis. If the penalties ever equal or exceed a vampire's strength or dexterity they fall into a coma, their bodies slowly drying out as they take on the appearance of a mummified corpse. Even a single drop of blood upon their bare skin is enough to reduce the penalties by one, allowing the vampire to move about once more.
Curse of the Dawn (Su): From sunrise to sunset, vampires are disoriented, taking a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. In addition, exposure to even the smallest amount of direct natural sunlight causes the vampire to lose all fast healing and take 2d10 points of damage per round. A vampire reduced to -10 hit points by this damage erupts into flames and burns to ashes, permanently destroyed. Even normal light interacts oddly with a vampire; they cast no shadows and do not appear in mirrors.
Curse of Gaia (Su): Piercing weapons made of any sort of plant material (typically wood) may deal critical hits to vampires. Not only that, but on a natural 20 to confirm a critical hit the weapon pierces the vampire's heart, paralyzing them until it is removed. Also, wild garlic repulses the vampire, forcing them to make a DC 15 will save in order to enter a 5-ft. square containing it or to attack something bearing it. If the vampire's fangs pierce wild garlic, it paralyzes their jaw and negates their fast healing.
Curse of the Holy Sigil (Su): A character with sufficient faith in an organization of order and virtue may make use of their symbol; this could be a religion (Possible symbols include the christian cross or the star of david) or some other group (Most commonly the nighthunters, though everything from an army a civil rights group has been known to function in the same capacity). Vampires must make a DC 15 will save to attack character who have allegiances to good and an organization whose symbol they prominently display, as well as any object that the person spends 10 rounds inscribing the said symbol upon. If such a symbol is marred or otherwise destroyed the effect is lost. Also, when such a person places a holy symbol within a vampire's mouth or inscribes it upon their head the vampire's fast healing ceases to function.
Damage Reduction (Su): A vampire has damage reduction 10/silver, wood and magic. A vampire’s natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Fast Healing (Ex): A vampire heals 3 points of damage each round so long as it has at least 1 hit point.
Refuge of the Grave (Su): A vampire may choose to "sleep" in an small enclosed space (traditionally a coffin) containing a small amount of dirt or other material from the ground where they died and/or rose as a vampire. The vampire sleeps for as long as they choose, though they may make listen checks with a -15 penalty and can awake with a DC 10 wisdom check if they hear something or are physically contacted. While sleeping a vampire loses no blood, heals the ability damage of a blood fury at twice the normal rate and gains a +4 bonus on will saves to avoid permanent mental ability damage. Under no other circumstances may a vampire "sleep."
Resistances (Ex): A vampire has resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10.
Turn Resistance (Ex): A vampire has +4 turn resistance.
Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +8, Dex +4, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. As an undead creature, a vampire has no Constitution score and use their Charisma score for Concentration checks.
Skills: Vampires have a +4 racial bonus on Bluff, Handle Animal, Hide, Intimidate, Listen, Move Silently, Sense Motive, and Spot checks. Otherwise same as the base creature.
Feats: Vampires gain Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, and Lightning Reflexes, assuming the base creature meets the prerequisites and doesn’t already have these feats.
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +4
Allegiance: A Vampire's first allegiance is to Evil, and other allegiances are shifted in priority (or if there is not room, removed) as necessary. A Vampire may still have an allegiance to Good.
Advancement: By character class.
Level Adjustment: Same as the base creature +6.

Slaying a Vampire

Vampires are notoriously difficult to permanently destroy. Reducing a vampire’s hit points to 0 or lower incapacitates it, but doesn't destroy it; the vampire cannot be reduced below -10 hp and will heal at the rate of 1 point per round. One can sever a vampire's head with a coup de grace as long as the damage is sufficient to reduce their hit points to -10, but even then the body slowly regrows; the vampire regains one hit point per hour and is fully regenerated when it reaches 1 hp, at which point the vampire regains consciousness and may move about normally. (For the first hour a vampire's head will reattach to the body in a round if replaced, but after this point the body disintegrates into ash and the new one begins to grow.) The key to bringing about a vampire's Final Death is the exploitation of their various curses. The nighthunter's traditional method has been to sever the head, set a nighthunter crest upon the tongue, close their teeth upon flowers of wild garlic, and place the head upon a pike to await the sunrise. During large-scale batles in the days of old, nighthunters would create multiple "funeral pyres", massive bonfires into which they would throw undead and fallen comrades alike. Numerous soldiers would stand guard in a circle to make sure none of the occupants escaped before the dawn.

Vampire Special Abilities

Vampires have a startling array of powers, and it is rare for any two to posess the exact same abilities. Their weaknesses also tend to vary. A Vampire has one power every four character levels, rounding down. He may also select up to two additional powers in exchange for a corresponding number of flaws. They may also increase their powers by taking the Improved Vampiric Abilities feat.

Vampire Powers:
Alternate Form (Su): A vampire can assume the shape of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as a standard action. A vampire chooses which form they can take on when they select this power; the vampire may select this ability a second time to gain access to the other forms. The ability is similar to a polymorph spell cast by a 12th-level character, except that the vampire does not regain hit points for changing form and must choose from among the forms mentioned here. While in its alternate form, the vampire loses its natural slam attack, children of the night and compelling gaze abilities, 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. (If the base creature is not terrestrial, this power might allow other forms.)
Blasphemer of the Dawn (Su): A vampire takes only a -1 on attack rolls, saving throws and skill checks during daylight hours and instead loses hit points at the rate of 1 per minute. They appear in mirrors and cast shadows from any artificial form of light.
Blasphemer of Gaia (Su): A vampire is immune to the effects of wild garlic and has a 50% chance of not being paralyzed when their heart is pierced.
Blasphemer of the Sigil (Su): A vampire recieves a +8 bonus on will saves against the effects of the Curse of the Sigil and gains a +2 morale bonus on will saves for 5 rounds whenever they destroy a functional holy symbol.
Blood Bond (Su): A vampire can offer two point's worth of blood to a willing creature to drink. Doing so places the victim under a permanent Charm Person effect, causing them to regard the vampire as their master and a trusted ally. Resisting one of the vampire's commands requires a succesful will save. Vampires with this ability often use it on newly created progeny to insure loyalty. The effect is a curse, and requires the standard degree of magic and will to remove. Also, a vampire with this ability may telepathically command all ghouls they have created within a radius of 100 ft. per character level.
Children of the Night (Su): Vampires command the lesser creatures of the world and once per day can call forth 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard action. These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the vampire for up to 1 hour.
Compelling Gaze (Su): A vampire can subvert an opponent’s will 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 dominate person spell (caster level 12th). The ability has a range of 30 feet. Note that paralysis does not prevent the use of this ability.
Gaseous Form (Su): As a standard action once per day, a vampire can assume gaseous form at will as the spell (caster level 5th), except that the vampire appears as a semitransparent outline and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability. A vampire may take select this ability a second time; if so, they may use this ability additional times per day at the cost of two point's worth of blood each, and may automatically do so when reduced to 0 hit points or less.
Improved Resistance (Su): Instead of silver, wood, and magic, a vampire's DR requires holy weapons to bypass.
Monstrous Fervor: A vampire refuses to collapse even in the face of massive physical damage. They remain standing between -1 and -9 hp and can take one standard action each round.
Monstrous Strength: A vampire's enhanced physical might allows them to more easily handle weapons of all kinds. They treat their size as large for the purpose of determining how they wield weapons.
Semblance of Life (Su): A vampire may expend blood at the rate of one point's worth per hour in order to create an illusion of having normal biological processes. Their body is warm, their pulse is normal, they breathe, and their eyes even resume their old color. They still must remember to blink, however.
Spider Climb (Ex): A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.
Thaumaturgic Rites (Su): A vampire may use the stolen lifeblood flowing through their veins to augment their eldritch power. As a move action, they may spend up to half their level in blood; this increases their effective caster level by an equal amount for one round per character level. A vampire who has spent a sufficent amount of blood may use part or all of this augmentation to instead apply any metamagic feat they possess, sacrificing two points of the increase in caster level for each effective level that the metamagic feat would increase the spell by. When using skill-based magic, the vampire instead gains an enhancement bonus on all skill checks to cast spells.

Vampiric Flaws:
Call of the Beast (Su): A vampire needs spend only a single point's worth of blood enter a frenzy, but they take a -4 penalty on will saves to avoid doing so involuntarily and the penalty to their intelligence, wisdom and charisma is -5 instead of -4.
Curse of the Nosferatu (Su): The savagery inside is reflected in the vampire's exterior; they appear warped and feral, taking a -4 penalty on diplomacy checks and a -10 penalty on disguise checks to make themselves appear human.
Curse of the Sea (Su): A vampire cannot cross over running water of their own will, although they may be transported over it while sleeping.
Fear of the Curse (Su): Vampires cannot bear to even look directly at that which weakens them. When the target is bearing a mirror, wild garlic or a functional holy symbol the vampire must treat them as though they have one-falf concealment, incurring a 20% miss chance.
Respect for the Host (Su): Vampires may not enter a private domain without proper invitation from a qualified source, often the owner or a resident.
Slow Partaker (Su): A vampire may only drain one point of blood from a subject each round.

Improved Vampiric Abilities
You have succesfully tapped further into the dark power which drives you, and have learned much as a result.
Prerequisites: True Vampire, character level 6th.
Benefit: You either lose a vampiric flaw, gain a new vampiric power, or gain two new vampiric powers and one new flaw.
Special: You may gain this feat multiple times.


Anonymous said...

Hate to be picky, and not read much at all but I was fascinated by the "No Life King" comment. Insinuated there was some underpinning philosophy, or rule to the vampires. Aside from, y'know. Drinking blood and being cool. And true vampire insinuates there being false vampires andddddddddddddddddddddd I should just comment on the post rather than what I wish you would expound on.

And I find myself with little commentary beyond that. Though, how can a vampire have first allegiance to evil, and still be good?

Also, d20 sux etcetera.

Dagda said...

No, that's great; people letting me know what in particular interests them is

I'm afraid the name "No Life King" in and of itself is plucked straight from the Hellsing manga, probably the single most blatant ripoff I've done (the immediate effects of the blood fury are the other major example). In terms of capabilities they also match the character given that nickname; think V:TM's antediluvian vampire granddaddies, but with a true nature that's less a beastly humanoid and more some maniacal, elemental being of chaotic evil (I'm not even talking alignment).

I'll try and put up more details soon. as for the other topics you raise: A vampire's first allegiance to evil will trump over his prior allegiance to good under average circumstances, but not always. This is all the statistical way for accounting for the most emo piece of fluff this setting has about vampires: The transformation into one leaves your conscious mind intact, but the fundamental impulses- the same ones that steer humans into a being decent, reasonable people- are now working to turn you into a cackling, animalistic killing machine.

If nothing else, I hope you're right about this being something of a different setting; the focus is less on the nature of vampires than what they show about the nature of humans. More details will be forthcoming.

tl;dr less posing, more Rip and Tear.

Dagda said...

Er, whoops. Guess it shows that I was nodding off when I wrote that. ONe more try: No, that's great; people letting me know what in particular interests them is one of the most useful forms of positive feedback I can get.

Nyat said...

Noticed you seemed to draw on VtM a decent amount as well *cough*curse of the Nosferatu*cough*

Also, as to DR. You say they have DR "10/silver, wood and magic" by using and instead of or it means it requires a weapon that is both wood and magic making most stakes completely worthless. Did you perhaps mean or?

One of the powers also changes the DR to protect against all but "holy weapons", I believe you meant good aligned weapons as in DR 10/good (as I have never heard of DR/holy, nor do I believe such a damage type exists).

Dagda said...

Correct corrections are correct. And yeah, V:TM was another major inspiration, though the Nosferatu name is more of a shared reference/inspiration.

Anonymous said...

No Life Kings could be the muddled possible origins of vampires; humans that acted in such a way, or accomplished such a feat that they became a vampire without being the spawn of any other vampire; if one were to look at this like a disease, the spontaneous mutation without any clear origin point. Elizabeth Báthory, Vlad Tepes, The Bulgar Slayer of Constantinople, Ivan the Terrible, just off the top of my head, might receive candidacy.

Might help work on the metaphorical underpinnings (If you want metaphorical underpinnings) of this brew. Or maybe you're waiting for Hirano's say on what a No Life King is- anyway it's out there.

Dagda said...

I do have an origin in mind, and No Life Kings are indeed the root of all vampires/undead. I'll have to post the cosmology entry sometime soon...

Bigode said...

LAs suck. Really. Try making this into a 6-level class. :D

Dagda said...

It's almost besides the point- LA is there to allow monstrous characters and normal ones fight side-by-side. True Vampires are NOT a "decent people once you get to know them" kind of monster, not even a small minority. The few that continue to do good in the long term are doing so in *spite* of their nature, not out of any personal feeling- not love, not empathy, not any form of conscience. They can't even remember what it felt like to want to do what humans describe as the "right" thing.

Bigode said...

I can't even tell how that's a response to me if it was meant to. I'm talking about how LA's a mechanical disaster, and suggesting that "burning 6 levels away" actually be made into 6 levels, even if you mandate that characters get all 6 at once.

Dagda said...

So. . .you're suggesting the template include six HD?