Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Night Brood: Vampire Player Characters for D&D

Zak Smith asked the question the other day "What would make Vampire more fun for you?"

And I thought "hmmmm..."  

Well my second reaction was that it is for angsty young goths and that it isn't fun, but I have to admit I did once play a game for two years that was actually rather good.  Ultimately is was intra party factionalism and overplayed theme of mistrust that broke it but for the most it was very good.

So it was the way we played it and not the game that spoiled that part.  I think played as Night Black Agents or something like that it could be cool, or a foray into the near future or medieval settings like those awful Underworld movies or that rather good one made in Australia (Daybreakers?).

The second thing I didn't like much was the system.  Too clunky.  Dice pool after dice pool (after dice pool after dice pool) just to see who sneaks up on who: boring.  "Does anyone have any modifiers to surprise? No?  Roll d6 for surprise.  Okay, coming out of the mist...".  Easy.  I also strongly disliked character generation and felt the point buy shoehorned characters and played into the victim mentality of hating people who are athletic, smart, and socially competent too.  Random stats rock.

Anyway, I know what my answer is now.  What would make Vampire better for me is if it was easy like D&D.


Vampire Player Characters for D&D. 

Optional choices are italicized.


Saving Throws: Fighter
Attack as:  Monster.  +1 per level
Any armour and weapons. 
All unarmed vampires do 1d4+str in melee.  Those with the Monster Within gifts do 1d6.
(You can probably use any of the non magic-using classes if you want but this is effectively a class)

Roll 3d6 seven times (or 4d6 if you're not hardcore).  

The seventh attribute is your starting Blood (how much blood you can ‘hold’).  At first level and each level thereafter a vampire pc gains a number of blood equal to their new level.  

Constitution modifiers still apply to hit points and saving throws verses final death to represent that some bodies are tougher than others.  (I originally wanted to have con as blood but then it became too powerful as a single stat.  This way has more character range).

'Spent' blood is restored by feeding, meaning higher level vampires are much thirstier.    Consider using a multiplier for converting human hit points to blood based on how bloodthirsty you want things.  1hp to 5b might be a good place to start meaning most low level characters can refuel off a zero level human or two (1-4hp = 5-20b. 



At first level a vampire can drain ½ a hit dice, at third a whole hit dice, and at fifth level two hit dice per round.  This also drains levels from levelled characters.



Because Blood starts as a 3d6 attribute, as with the other attributes bad things happen when blood goes below three.  At two the vampire becomes obsessed with finding more blood, at one the vampire flies into an uncontrollable frenzy which ends either when it gets blood or is reduced in some way to zero blood, or is destroyed.  At zero blood the vampire falls into a torpor as if it had been staked through the heart.

A vampire that is staked through the heart is immobilised.

Final death is handled the same way as a human.  At zero hit points a saving throw verses final death must be made.  These receive a bonus based on Constitution score (to represent that some vampire bodies are tougher).  Depending on the nature of your game, like if it is a longer game, final death might mean that the vampire turns into a mist and goes back to it’s grave (or perhaps that is a high level ability) and in which case 'final death' will actually require some other condition.

Sunlight inflicts d4 damage in the first round, 2d4 in the second, 3d4 in the third and so on.  A vampire reduced to zero hit points by sunlight is destroyed.  A vampire must make a saving throw verses fear to enter sunlight, and when in sunlight must make one each round to avoid flying into a fear based frenzy if they attempt any action other than seek shelter.  Damage from sunlight is harder to ‘heal’ using blood as described below.

Vampires are also vulnerable to silver.  Either silver damage is as hard to heal as fire, OR damage inflicted by silver may not be healed until the the following round.  Some hunters claim that even powerful vampires have been taken down with a hail of silver arrows or bullets.

If you need to figure how how many generations removed from the ‘First’ vampire your pc is, then 20 minus your starting Blood Pool (OR whatever you want) seems about right.  

Hit points are handled normally, and accumulate at d8 per level.  If you want Vampires much tougher than humans go with 2d8 or more at first level. 

If you want a more supernatural feel to your game, consider calculating hit points and blood points normally and then adding the totals together and just taking all blood use and hit point damage straight out of that same total.  This will increase the sense that it is a pool of supernatural power that is at work here rather than a body that has undergone a supernatural change but characters will feel a little more similar.

Blood can be spent in a number of ways.  Each round a number of blood up to your level plus two may be spent.  Gifts may be activated, attributes increased, or hit points healed on the vampires turn.   Playtesting Issue.  I am strongly consider making it only one of these three options each round to make things more tactical.

Blood spent to either heal hit points or increase attributes is done so at a rate of one for one. 

Damage from sunlight may not be healed as long as the vampire remains exposed, and thereafter may only be healed at the cost of two blood per hit point.  Damage from fire also costs two blood per hit point to heal.  If not using the optional delay healing mechanic for silver damage then silver damage also costs two blood per hp to heal.



Blood can also be spent to activate ‘gifts’.  Vampire ‘gifts’ use the mechanics of spells and a vampire gets one at first level and one per level thereafter.  If you want to use the concept of vampire bloodlines then each bloodline should have access to three spheres of gifts.  These should be theme appropriate to the vampire and the setting.  e.g.  the classic Nosferatu archetype gets the ability spheres of Monster Within, Stealth, and The Beast.
These gifts cost one blood per level of the spell to activate.  Consider making this level-plus-one to activate or more if the players are doing too much magic spam.


List of Vampire Gifts

Blood Magic


Cure Light Wounds
Blood Magic
Level 1
Resist Cold
Blood Magic
Level 1
Feather Fall
Blood Magic
Level 1
Jump
Blood Magic
Level 1
Barkskin
Blood Magic
Level 2
Feign Death
Blood Magic
Level 2
Levitate
Blood Magic
Level 2
Cure Disease
Blood Magic
Level 3
Fly
Blood Magic
Level 3
Haste
Blood Magic
Level 3


Madness

Auditory Illusion
Madness
Level 1
Darkness Globe (Shadow Veil)
Madness
Level 1
Hypnotism
Madness
Level 1
Ventriloquism
Madness
Level 1
Blur
Madness
Level 2
Hypnotic Pattern
Madness
Level 2
Misdirection
Madness
Level 2
Ventriloquism
Madness
Level 2
Amnesia
Madness
Level 2
Mirror Image
Madness
Level 2
Phantasmal Force
Madness
Level 2
Scare
Madness
Level 2
Paralyze
Madness
Level 3
Spectral Force
Madness
Level 3


Presence

1. Command
Presence
Level 1
9. Remove Fear
Presence
Level 1
1. Allure
Presence
Level 1
3. Charm Person
Presence
Level 2
11. Suggestion
Presence
Level 3
11. Hold Person
Presence
Level 3


Stealth

9. Pass without Trace
Stealth
Level 1
10. Silence Radius
Stealth
Level 2
11. Nondetection
Stealth
Level 2

7. Invisibility
Stealth
Level 3




Monster Within


7. Doppelganger
Monster Within
Level 1
28. Spider Climb
Monster Within
Level 1
23. Stinking Cloud
Monster Within
Level 2
Strength
Monster Within
Level 2
4. Insect Swarm
Monster Within
Level 3
3. Fear
Monster Within
Level 3


Rituals


21. Protection from Evil
Ritual
Level 1
23. Read Magic
Ritual
Level 1
24. Scribe
Ritual
Level 1
9. Reveal Charm
Ritual
Level 2
2. Animate Dead
Ritual
Level 3
6. Dispel Magic
Ritual
Level 3
11. Remove Curse (reversible)
Ritual
Level 3
15. Protection from Evil 10Ê radius
Ritual
Level 3


The Beast

1. Animal Companion
The Beast
Level 1
Beast Senses (surprise as ranger)
The Beast
Level 1
7. Invisibility, Animal
The Beast
Level 1
12. Speak with Animals
The Beast
Level 1
29. Summon Familiar
The Beast
Level 1
Charm Person or Mammal
The Beast
Level 2
11. Snake Charm
The Beast
Level 2
12. Infravision
The Beast
Level 2
3. Hold Animal
The Beast
Level 3


Vision Beyond The Veil


8. Locate Creature
Beyond the Veil
Level 1
5. Detect Illusion
Beyond the Veil
Level 1
6. Detect Invisibility
Beyond the Veil
Level 1
20. Message
Beyond the Veil
Level 1
5. Know Alignment
Beyond the Veil
Level 2
8. ESP
Beyond the Veil
Level 2
12. Speak with Dead
Beyond the Veil
Level 3
2. Clairaudience
Beyond the Veil
Level 3
3. Clairvoyance
Beyond the Veil
Level 3


Environmental

12. Wall of Vapor
Environmental
Level 1
9. Obscuring Mist
Environmental
Level 2
5. Fog Cloud
Environmental
Level 2
9. Gust of Wind
Environmental
Level 3