A Pathfinder vampire that's exposed to "direct sunlight" is on the first round staggered and on the second consecutive round destroyed utterly. A 3.5 vampire that's exposed to "direct sunlight" is disoriented: "It can take only a single move action or attack action and is destroyed utterly in the next round if it cannot escape."

The loophole in both games seems to be that the sunlight must be direct. That is, if the sunlight passes through anything before reaching the vampire, the vampire is safe from it.

Is there anything in either game that covers a creature's body so that sunlight would always be indirect? Alternatively, is there an inexpensive magic item or low-level spell that can protect a vampire from direct sunlight?

(Also welcome are any other options that permit a vampire to walk around during the day with impunity.)


5 Answers 5


Note: This answer is for exclusively. Other answers may provide specific advice.

The Monster Manual on Slaying a Vampire says, "Exposing any vampire to direct sunlight disorients it: It can take only a single move action or attack action and is destroyed utterly in the next round if it cannot escape" (253). Libris Mortis expands on this description, that text on Sunlight Vulnerability saying that this means

…direct exposure to the light of the sun. Reflected sunlight, whether via a mirror or the moon itself, has no effect on an undead creature vulnerable to sunlight. Cloud cover or similar interference does not protect the undead creature unless it is thick enough to provide concealment to the creature. For example, a vampire within a fog cloud spell would not adversely be affected by sunlight. Even thick clothing, as long as it covers the body completely, can protect an undead creature from the dangers of sunlight. (140)

That text's Table 7–3: Undead and Sunlight (ibid.) says that sunlight exposure leaves a vampire "disoriented, destroyed" then provides a note saying, "One round after exposure to sunlight begins, a vampire that remains exposed is destroyed utterly." However, the Monster Manual remains the primary source for a vampire, and that means—despite Libris Mortis—during that 1 round the vampire still exists after it's exposed to sunlight—when the vampire's disoriented—a vampire is still limited to only either a move action or a standard attack. This limitation on the vampire's actions makes it incredibly difficult for a vampire to activate effects that can rescue a vampire from its impending destruction.

For example, even if a DM were to allow the effect to function in such a way—and most won't, making that an incredibly big if—, blotting out that pesky sun via the effect of the Iron Heart maneuver iron heart surge [special] (Tome of Battle 68) is impossible for the typical disoriented vampire as such a vampire must take a standard action to employ the maneuver. Further, for example,—assuming the rules for doing so from the Rules Compendium are in use (85)—activating a wand of quickened no light [trans] (Book of Vile Darkness 100) (0-level spell at caster level 1 modified to a 4th-level slot by a level 7 caster) (420 gp/charge) is also impossible, a disoriented vampire being unable to take even free actions, much less a swift or immediate action.

With all this in mind, for a vampire on a budget, listed below are what I think are the most cost effective ways for a vampire to avoid destruction from exposure to direct sunlight.

Wear clothing that "covers the body completely"…

If the DM's hewing closely to the rules, an explorer's outfit (PH 129, 131) (10 gp; 8 lbs.) probably won't be enough to cover the vampire's body completely, so a cold weather outfit (PH 129, 131) (8 gp; 7 lbs.) likely won't be enough either. A vampire in such a campaign needs an outfit that says it covers the wearer from head to toe, face included. The black bodysuit (Arms and Equipment Guide 29, 30) (30 gp; 1 lb.) may be sufficient, although to reap its other benefits also the vampire must be lightly equipped. However, the most foolproof method of covering everything according to the rules is probably the hydration suit (Sandstorm 99, 101) (1,000 gp; 10 lbs.), essentially a Dune-style stillsuit with goggles and everything (from the novels not the films). However, a more generous DM could rule an explorer's outfit sufficient, maybe supplemented with piecemeal clothing from the Arms and Equipment Guide's Table 2–2: Clothing (29).

However, for a vampire, the terrifying thing about relying on this method to protect it from a sunlit environment is that clothing—like other worn items besides armor—is vulnerable to sunder attempts… and sundering a worn object is particularly easy: not only is doing so usually easier than hitting the vampire, but also clothing typically doesn't have much in the way of hardness or hp. Seriously, once a vampire that's out in the open on a sunny day is recognized as a vampire, the good folks of the town should do their best to rip its clothes off.

…Then take the feat Endure Sunlight…

The monstrous feat Endure Sunlight (LM 26) has as its prerequisite a vulnerability or weakness to sunlight—like that of the typical vampire—and has as the following benefit :

You can resist all dangerous effects of sunlight for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier (minimum 1 round). After this time, if you are still exposed to sunlight, you take the normal effects as appropriate for your kind.

This gives any vampire at least 1 round to do something other than move or attack, like activate a wand of obscuring mist [conj] (PH 258) (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (15 gp/charge) (just as effective as the 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell fog cloud [conj] (PH 232) for the purpose of saving a vampire from destruction), that aforementioned wand of quickened no light (without the quickening works, too!), or even—if the DM says it'll make a difference—the martial maneuver iron heart surge. However, if the vampire wants true reliability in avoiding its destruction, it should probably have on hand a very particular potion (see below).

…Then chug potions of cloak of dark power

A potion of cloak of dark power [abjur] (Spell Compendium 48) (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (50 gp; 0.1 lbs.) should be available in all but the smallest town, despite the spell itself being available only as the 1st-level spell of the domain Drow (273). The spell's effect creates around the subject a dusky haze that "does not interfere with vision, but the subject and anything it wears or carries is protected from the effects of full sunlight, even under the open, daytime sky of the surface world." The spell's 1 min./level duration should be sufficient for a vampire to get to safety after the vampire's clothes have been ripped off and its rounds of sunlight endurance nearly exhausted.

If the DM rules the potion isn't available—a strong possibility given the rarity of casters who can trigger the spell so as to create a potion of it—, a vampire can take a full-round action (that somehow doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity) to spread on itself the alchemical substance liquid night (LM 74) (150 gp; 0.5 lbs.). Doing so protects the vampire from sunlight for 1 hour. The cost—both in actions and gp—is higher than for the potion, but a vampire lacking access to the domain Drow may be able to itself manufacture liquid night instead of needing to purchase potions of cloak of dark power from increasingly suspicious vendors. However, both the potion and liquid night have achingly obvious effects—the haze of the potion's effect and the coating of liquid night being a "dark, sticky fluid" that "has a distinct musky odor of moonflower"—, making the presence of either effect a (ahem) dead giveaway that something's not right with the affected creature.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I knew I had seen the description about mirrors or the moon somewhere, but couldn't figure out where it was from. Sadly, neither that nor the mention about concealment can be found anywhere in pathfinder. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 15, 2017 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras A PC in the previous campaign I ran had a wraith cohort that the PC needed to protect from sunlight, so I kind of had these at hand, but vampires in Pathfinder aren't really my thing. I'm certain, though, that there must be a tremendous amount of Pathfinder-specific vampire stuff. O, look, there's some. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ this is perfect, could you post a link to the potion of cloak of dark power \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @theAlphaMatt Glad to've helped. I can't just post a link to the spell: the site prohibits links to sites that illegally offer such material, and posting something in its entirety (when it's not for review or critique) is generally frowned up. However, the spell's in the Spell Compendium, just waiting for you. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ For clothing, it can help if you go with multiple layers. "reflected sunlight has no effect", so somethign like an enormous, broad-brimmed hat can do the trick for many of the hours of the day. An appropriately body-covering cloak under the hat can work, as long as you have the hood up. Then you can wear some sort of full-body-covering outfit under that, and then wrap your body fully with bandages under that. Each of these things can be sundered, but each of them must be sundered individually. Admittedly, it does start making you look a little funny, which could also be a of problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    May 29, 2018 at 14:17


There are spells that could help you overcome the vampire weakness:

  • Protective Penumbra will allow you to safely ignore any penalties from light blindness, light sensitivity or light vulnerability.
  • Darkvault can protect an area from any non-magical light, which prevents it from increasing the light level in the affected area.
  • Daywalker will allow you to walk in sunlight as if you had no vulnerabilities, but you also lose some special abilities while under the effects of the spell, like ability and energy drain.

From a rules-as-written perspective, neither Protective Penumbra nor Daywalker would help against a vampire's weakness to sunlight. They work on three abilities: light blindness, light sensitivity, or vulnerability to sunlight.

The spells won't work and Protective Penumbra probably needs an errata to clarify this (the developer's intent seems to be to work on vampires). The Vampire ability is called Weaknesses or a Weakness to Sunlight if you may call it that way. But they do not have any of the abilities listed by Protective Penumbra. There are vampires and spawns that could have one of the three abilities by the way (check the Blood of Night). Of course, an orc turned into a vampire would still benefit from the spell and lose his light sensitivity.


Polymorphing seems to be a valid choice:

While under the effects of a polymorph spell, you lose all extraordinary and supernatural abilities that depend on your original form (such as keen senses, scent, and darkvision), as well as any natural attacks and movement types possessed by your original form. You also lose any class features that depend upon form, but those that allow you to add features (such as sorcerers that can grow claws) still function. While most of these should be obvious, the GM is the final arbiter of what abilities depend on form and are lost when a new form is assumed. Your new form might restore a number of these abilities if they are possessed by the new form.

This means that your GM has to decide if you remain a vampire-looking creature or not when you change forms. If you turn into a wolf, is it a vampire wolf? We know that Darkvision is removed if the new form does not possess it, because your original eyes are not the same eyes on your new form. But then what creates this vulnerability? Is it your skin? Your soul/nature/spirit?

This would explain why powerful vampires, like Dracula or Carmilla, were not affected by several things that are strong against vampires. Otherwise, they would need to be Mythic Vampires to overcome (some of) their weaknesses.

Dracula certainly could change his appearance and walk during daylight both on the books and movie. While Carmilla seemingly had no problem with sunlight.

Turning yourself into a wolf or bat using Beast Shape would then be a valid option to escape. But a Nosferatu using Swarm Form does not lose any of their abilities and should still remain vulnerable to the effects of direct sunlight. Gaseous Form, on another hand, would never remove this weakness as it is a Transmutation spell but not from the Polymorph subtype. A Dread Vampire has a special ability to Change Shape that specifies that they keep all special attacks and special abilities of their template.

But if this is allowed, that means that even Alter Self could be used to overcome this weakness. So all a vampire needs are a few levels on a spellcasting class, meaning that nearly all vampire published to this day could have access to this spell and could walk during daylight, but decided not to. We can exclude the noble vampire or vampire enforcer, as they decided to take non-spellcasting classes, and we don't known if that was before or after vampirisation. Even the default NPC vampire from bestiary 1 (sorcerer 8) could have the spell.

While Alter Self sounds like a cheap way to overcome this weakness with spells, if the vampire lost all his weaknesses, he also lost all his powers, or nearly all of them, as some are mental abilities. But allowing Protective Penumbra to work (which is fine) would be even stronger than allowing Alter Self to work, as the vampire overcomes a major weakness without any penalty, it even has a longer duration (10 minutes/level against 1 minute/level).

There is at least one reference in popular culture against this.

Move underground

If your GM rules that simply Polymorphing doesn't work, and it does make sense, you could still polymorph yourself into a creature with a Burrow Speed, or cast a spell that grants you that type of movement (Burrow). There is really little argument against this, but you will have trouble interacting with others unless you get inside places without direct sunlight.


There's a spell for that

I present protective penumbra:

This spell keeps the target slightly in shadow. A target with light blindness, light sensitivity, or vulnerability to sunlight (such as vampires and wraiths) may ignore penalties from those qualities...

Sounds pretty watertight to me. You can get a companion with a wand of it (4,500gp) to keep casting on you, which while cheaper, you mentioned not wanting to have a caster follow you around. Its also kind of a dead giveaway because they have to recast it every 30 minutes, and it only takes a DC 17 spellcraft check to identify. For a more flexible option, you can ask your GM if you can purchase this in a helmet or something as a custom item. RAW the price should come out at 18,000gp. Certainly no small amount, but worth it for the ability to walk among the living.

  • \$\begingroup\$ raw: This spell doesn't work and probably needs an errata, the vampire ability is called Weaknesses or a Weakness to Sunlight if you may call it that way. But they do not have any of the abilities listed by Protective Penumbra. There are two other spells that have a similar wording, Darkvault to protect a certain area, and Daywalker, which allows light-sensitive creatures to walk during the day. None will help here. There are vampires (check the blood of night) that could have one of the three abilities by the way. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 15, 2017 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ For reference, Rock Trolls and Derro have vulnerability to sunlight. Rock Trolls have a behavior very similar to vampire's. Light sensitivity and light blindness there are dozens of examples, but a vampire has neither (a Damphir does). \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 15, 2017 at 17:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras the spell clearly specifies it works on vampires and wraiths so clearly vulnerability to sunlight means just that, not some single non-existant ability. RAW this works fine. It is a pathfinder-only solution, though (and... dispell magic...) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ It says it ignores penalties from those abilities, a common vampire has none of those abilities. An orc vampire would lose his light sensitivity. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 15, 2017 at 18:23

Ninja vampires are immune to sunlight.

(Note that this a answer.)

The Tome of Battle contains several prestige classes, one of which is the Shadow Sun Ninja. At level 10 Shadow Sun Ninjas gain an ability that, if abused, can turn them into sunlight-immune vampires.

From Tome of Battle, p128 (emphasis mine):

Balance of Light and Dark (Su): ...

At 10th level, once per day as a swift action, you can transform into a creature of pure darkness for 1 minute. ...

In addition to these benefits, with each successful unarmed attack you make, you can choose to bestow one negative level on your opponent. ...

At the end of your transformation, you take 1 point of Constitution damage per negative level you bestowed. If this damage drops your Constitution to 0 or lower, your body dissipates into an inky cloud. Unless you are restored to life by true resurrection, you rise in 1d4 days as a vampire. Your alignment becomes evil, though your alignment on the law-chaos axis remains the same. You are now a dedicated champion of evil and an NPC. You retain access to all your abilities in this prestige class and lack a normal vampire's vulnerability to sunlight. Your vampire body forms in the spot where your mortal form perished.

Legend holds that the souls of Shadow Sun ninjas who are corrupted in this manner are imprisoned within the Iron City of Dis, Dispater's capital within the depths of Hell. A successful quest to free the soul from its prison cell destroys the vampire and restores the Shadow Sun ninja to life. Legend holds that several mighty Shadow Sun heroes languish within Dispater's prison, waiting to be freed.

So a sufficiently powerful Shadow Sun Ninja can easily become a vampire capable of ignoring sunlight. They have the added weakness that a quest to free their original soul from the prisons of Hell will destroy the vampire, but that seems like something that will come up less often than exposure to sunlight.


I'm surprised I was able to get enough reputation this fast to be able to answer. I actually was looking for something I could do to allow a vampire to daywalk - I'm an unconventional DM and I'm playing a character along with the rest - though we plan to rotate the seat once more people get proficient enough. The goal for my character was to become vampire spawn down the road and it'd be difficult to only travel at night or during the "long nights" caused by the host gas giant eclipsing the star in my campaign (it takes place on one of the gas giant's moons).

Let's be honest - the light restrictions are intended more for NPCs than for PC adventurers.

In this thread, we had the great answer from whatdice mentioning the protective penumbra spell (Pathfinder). Since the two games are so similar, and obviously that's why you lumped them together here, I adopted the spell for DnD 3.5 purposes. Obviously, the DM will have to be willing to do the same in order for you to be able to do this as I have, but I designed a cape for this purpose using DnD 3.5 item pricing rules:

Cape of Daywalking:

The wearer of this cape is immune to the effects of sunlight as per the Protective Penumbra Spell.

I calculated the cost of this as a level 2 spell with continuous effect: spell level 2 * caster level 2 * 2000 gp = 8000 gp.

Then, per the footnote, if the continuous effect is on a spell cast in 10 minute intervals, multiply that by 1.5. So we get 12,000 gp.

Finally adding in the value of the cape, which I deduced from calculating the cost of another magic cape, we raise that to 12,080 gp.

A stronger version I may add in at an even higher level is a +5 turning resistance (especially with a good-aligned cleric in the group). That would be, for save bonus (resistance) bonus 5 squared * 1000 gp = 25,000 gp. The higher of the two boosts (or items as it is poorly named) gets multiplied by 1.5, so our 25,000 gp becomes 37,500 gp.

We add that together and it becomes 49,580 gp altogether.

I also contemplated allowing it to cast a second spell at command. So, I thought it might be nice to add the ability to cast Disguise Self on yourself 3 times a day for 1 hour at a time. It is possible to set these disguises to act consecutively. The vampire is disguised in such a way as to hide only their vampiric features so as to appear mortal.

Well, that is charges per day - which I believe is applied to the command word entry.

spell level 1 * caster level 6 * 3 times / 5 (the double inverse) * 1800 gp = 6480 gp

If we applied this to the first cape, 12,000 would be the higher boost and so we multiply that by 1.5 = 18,000.

The total item would cost 24,560 gp.

So, there are three different versions of the item for DnD 3.5 if your DM will allow the use of the Pathfinder spell. I am unsure, as of yet, how putting all three properties in one item would work officially.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me add to this - as I just noticed a feat with +4 turn resistance - Improved Turn Resistance. You could instead use that base cape and add a feat (based on deconstructing other items, this has a cost of 10,000 gp). So the sunlight protection is the more expensive boost making it 18,000 gp - add the 10,000 and the 80 for the base item and we get 28,080 for only a +4 turn resistance... but that is only if you don't pick that feat to make the bonus worthless. \$\endgroup\$
    – VeronicaTS
    Dec 19, 2019 at 4:20

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