When I first saw this, I thought “Oh no! Twilight has invaded Dungeons and Dragons!” After giving it a bit more thought, however, I remain optimistic that this class has great potential… although it does make me wonder when the “Were-creature” class is coming out (let the wars begin!) … but I digress.
For now, I’ll reserve judgment until the Heroes of Shadow player supplement is released. And if Wizards of the Coast can expand the DnD player base riding the wave of the Vampire craze, all the better (I hope).
Vampire Mythology & Game Mechanics
Depending on which pieces of vampire mythology are used, this character class may have some interesting magic abilities, physical traits, and weaknesses. For example, Wizards of the Coast has released that Vampires will be vulnerable to radiant and resistant to necrotic energies, but what about silvered weapons, garlic, holy water, holy symbols, or stakes?
Death by Sunlight
One interesting mechanical detail that has been released is that Vampires take damage and become weakened from regular sunlight– and if that damage causes them to fall below 1hp, the Vampire is instantly destroyed. As a DM, I’m looking forward to having fun with this. If you’ve ever tried to fight, or play a sport with a hood on your head, you know it is very tough to prevent it from coming down (especially when you run).
The Vampire class does not use healing surges like most characters. Some Vampire attacks allow them to gain surges, and if they have more surges than their limit at the end of the encounter, they lose the extras and return to full health. But if that doesn’t happen, they can feed off willing allies.
Aside from not regaining hit points during a rest, it’s not clear yet if there will be any other bonuses or penalties related to how often a Vampire is able to “feed”.
So it’s not ALL bad. Vampires have darkvision, and since they are undead, they are immune to various effects that require the target to be a living creature. This also means they don’t need to breathe to survive, so they essentially start with water-breathing. Vampires gain an auto-regen when bloodied, and have class traits that provide nifty AC and damage bonuses.
Other Curious Situations
I imagine the vulnerability to regular sunlight will lead to some comical situations. For example, what happens if a Sun Cleric of Pelor heals a Vampire? Does the vampire take damage? Mechanically, the answer is technically no… but thematically, it seems the answer is an emphatic YES (and the Vampire takes extra damage due to being vulnerable to radiant). More complicated scenarios also exist… for example, what if players are in a dark cave, and one of them uses a sunrod or casts light? What if a player has a magic radiant weapon that provides bright light?
I’m also curious about other aspects that have not yet been fully divulged. Will Vampires have bonuses versus saves against necrotic effects, like Dwarves do against poison? Will they have a penalty to saves against radiant effects? Perhaps DnD developers will simply leave it at damage vulnerability and resistance.
Vampire Class Role: Striker (Controller?)
Vampires were announced as strikers, but thematically, I expect this class to lean toward a controller/skirmisher/lurker type. Primary stats are dexterity and charisma, which makes sense, as one would expect a Vampire to move around the battlefield with a ferocious, speedy grace.
Defenses & Weapon Proficiencies
Vampires seem like they will have defenses very comparable to the Rogue Thief build. If they are truly melee strikers, however, I hope there will be class feats to boost their AC. Vampires will have a high dexterity and charisma, it looks like their lowest defense will be fortitude.
Weapon proficiencies have not yet been announced, but if they are truly ageless melee strikers, I imagine they will be able to use simple and military weapons. Maybe Heroes of Shadow will surprise us with a few new shadow weapons that Vampires will also be proficient in…
To balance charm and grace with a ravenous hunger, I would also expect a Vampire’s skill list to include athletics, acrobatics, endurance, bluff, intimidate, history, diplomacy and of course stealth… possibly with an “animal magnetism” or “unnatural strength” trait that gives bonuses to certain skills.
Too bad there isn’t a clear “seduction” skill Vampires could make use of! I imagine such an attempt would fall under diplomacy or bluff, depending on how the player presents it… or perhaps it could even be an arcane skill check, like one would use to magically take over an object.
Vampire Magic Abilities
I am happy to see that Vampires have with daily blast 3 power in which they ‘teleport’ into bats, and do LOTS of damage. When I imagine a D&D vampire, I think of Alucard from Symphony of the Night, and I hope to see magical abilities in line with than branch of the Vampire myth.
Even though Vampires have been announced as Strikers, I am hopeful that they will lean toward the Controller role, and cause targets to have all sorts of nasty status effects. As a Vampire rises in level, I imagine their psychic and shadow abilities improving, allowing them to incur progressively worse effects on their enemies– everything from slow, granting combat advantage, daze, charm, sleep, stun, or even dominate.
Vampires as a Race
The Vryloka are a race cursed with a vampire bloodline. Oddly enough, it looks like you will be able to play a Vryloka as a class other than Vampire… but it seems equally odd that one could essentially have “vampire” as a race and a job class.
The details of the Vryloka race have not been released, but I’m guessing they may have a racial ability similar to the Vampire’s “blood drinker” encounter power, which allows them to deal extra damage and gain a healing surge. For now, however, we’ll just have to wait until additional details on the Vryloka are announced.
What do you think of the Heroes of Shadow news so far? Are you excited by the Vampire class, or are you critical of it?