I, like many people I’ve spoken to, were disappointed with the new vampire option presented in Heroes of Shadow. It’s not in fault to the mechanics. They feature excellent flavor and a fun balancing act of healing with limited healing surges. It’s not the fact that we already had vampire-esque options in the form of feats. I certainly don’t have a problem with such a dark character being played played by a PC (see the Werewolf theme in Kobold Quarterly #19).So what’s the issue? They made it a class. That means no vampire rogues, no vampire wizards, nor vampire blackguards, assassins or most anything else. So many opportunities gone. It’s not like we don’t have options to make this happen in other ways either. I set about coming up with a way to fix this issue, and decided the Theme was likely the best mechanic for the task. That means no vampire merchants, students or nobles, but themes are secondary traits (even farther removed from secondary really), and it seemed the lesser sacrifice.
The next step was to determine the new mechanics, but the issue here is, I like the mechanics! My desire with the following is to present the Vampire class options as a theme format. There are more choices than a regular theme to help customize your vampire the way that suits your character best, but in the end, I don’t think this should create any serious balance issues. This theme references material found in Heroes of Shadow.
Level 1 Starting Feature
You are undead. You gain the traits associated with the undead keyword. You do not age.
You do not add your constitution modifier to your total number of healing surges. Your total number of healing surges is reduced by 2 (to a maximum of 2).
You can take either the dark beckoning power or the taste of life power in place of an At-Will power granted by your class.
You gain the blood drinker power.
Level 5 Feature
You gain the blood is life and enduring soul class feature.
Level 10 Feature
You gain the night crawler ability.
Each of the remaining heroic vampire utility powers are available in place of your class utility powers for those levels.
A player character my not take the vampire class or hybrid vampire class and the vampire theme. You may take multi-class feats, and are considered to have the Vampirism feat (Dragon 400), if needed to meet the prerequisite for these feats (This will allow you to take Vampire Encounter and Daily Powers). For the purpose of meeting prerequisites you are considered to have the Vampire class.
It may seem lazy, but I see no reason why we should re-write what’s not broken, and I like the mechanics (it’s worth repeating). This limits your vampiric advancement to the first ten levels of play. Numbers seem to indicate that this is plenty for many groups. Some of us, however, might want a little more bite. It occurred to me that if my goal is the ability to combine my vampire with a class, what I might need is just a hybrid class. Most of the essentials classes haven’t been updated for the hybrid rules yet but we have a few to give us an example. That’s when I discovered there was a hybrid vampire option in Dragon 400. Go ahead take a look. It’s pretty good. . .
What? This is free content. Did you expect me to not point out the already available options? Have fun with the theme. Find the vampire that suits your game!