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A PC in our group was off on his own following a recurring villain of our groups. He was paralyzed where he could move, and the vampire bit his neck. The vampire said "now you get to remain 19 (years old) forever" before he left the cave. This was all done in RP.

We found him later, and healed up his bite marks. Our characters know of vampires, specifically only the one that bit him (recurring villain), but don't really know how vampirism works, because it isn't a super common thing in this world yet.

My question as the player is:

How does RAW vampirism work in 5e?

Is it a disease that develops over time? Is it something where they have to die and be brought back as a vampire?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to specify that you're asking how it works RAW. At the same time, you need to be aware that a DM's custom setting does not need to follow RAW. Furthermore, if vampires are uncommon in the setting, your character may have no way to know what's going on. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 5 '19 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am aware that my DM might not use RAW, but I want a base rule to go off of before I ask about it. Vampires are fairly uncommon, but our party due to a different campaign a long time ago involving this same villain obtained an ancient book with tons of information about vampires. After reading about that in game enough, I will probably know what I need to in order to fix it. \$\endgroup\$ – Just Another Guy Dec 5 '19 at 14:39
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If a vampire simply feeds on you (as in drinks some of your blood), you do not turn into a vampire.

If a vampire kills you with its Bite attack (MM, 352):

The target's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the vampire regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises the following night as a vampire spawn under the vampire's control.

Ways for a vampire spawn to become a true vampire according to the vampire entry on the Monster Manual:

Most of a vampire's victims become vampire spawn- ravenous creatures with a vampire's hunger for blood, but under the control of the vampire that created them. If a true vampire allows a spawn to draw blood from its own body, the spawn transforms into a true vampire no longer under its master's control. Few vampires are willing to relinquish their control in this manner. Vampire spawn become free-willed when their creator dies.

Or other extraordinary means such as the amber sarcophagus on the Curse of Strahd adventure.

Vampirism is not a disease or a curse, it's a form of undeath. The only way to cure a vampire would be to kill the creature and then resurrect the corpse.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also a bit unclear as to what "fed on" means from OP. It could be the bite attack, in which case your opening line isn't right. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 5 '19 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Wagner correct only a true vampire can create another of it's kind. \$\endgroup\$ – Bruno Souza Dec 5 '19 at 14:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch The way it happened was not the main question though, I just wanted to know how Vampirism worked in RAW no matter how the RP went. \$\endgroup\$ – Just Another Guy Dec 5 '19 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Wagner That's true, but if you're looking for community guidance, the more information we have about your exact issue, the more we can guide answers to help. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 5 '19 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ RAW, it's extremely unlikely a player will ever turn into a vampire. Unless they have full HP and only ever take bite damage in a fight, it's very likely they'll die-die long before they die from reaching 0 max health. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Dec 5 '19 at 14:53
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It is a two-step process.

  1. Humanoids slain by having their max HP reduced to 0 by a vampire's bite attack and then buried become vampire spawn.

  2. Vampire spawn can then be transformed into true vampires by being fed the blood of a true vampire.

The Vampire (MM, 352) entry in the Monster Manual says the following:

Born from Death. Most of a vampire's victims become vampire spawn- ravenous creatures with a vampire's hunger for blood, but under the control of the vampire that created them. If a true vampire allows a spawn to draw blood from its own body, the spawn transforms into a true vampire no longer under its master's control. Few vampires are willing to relinquish their control in this manner. Vampire spawn become free-willed when their creator dies.

It then states the following in the stat block of the vampire, under its Bite attack:

The target's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the vampire regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises the following night as a vampire spawn under the vampire's control.

The Bite attack of vampire spawn lacks the last sentence of this, so only true vampires are capable of creating new vampire spawn. Note that because the bite does both piercing and necrotic damage, while only the necrotic damage reduces maximum HP, their victim will likely hit 0 HP and die from their injuries prior to hitting 0 maximum HP and becoming a vampire spawn unless the vampire uses magical healing, or spaces the attack out over the course of hours to allow their victim to take Short Rests so that they can spend their Hit Dice to recover HP.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer was sufficient, but so was the first one. I can only give out one answer so it just had to go to who was first in this case. Sorry! \$\endgroup\$ – Just Another Guy Dec 5 '19 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a bit of organization in the edit. nice, concise answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 5 '19 at 15:04

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