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I am going to be running a game for a new player, and they want to play a Dhampir Changeling. I don’t want to use the Dhampir as written, because removing the Changeling's shapechanger feature feels like it would defeat the entire point of being a Changeling Dhampir.

How broken would it be to allow the player a Changeling Dhampir race made with the following features?:

  • ASI: +2 to any one ability score, +1 to another.
  • Darkvision
  • Shapechanger (from Changeling)
  • Vampiric Bite (from Dhampir)

Obviously, it’d be more powerful than a normal Changeling, or a normal Dhampir, but how broken would it be? I don’t want to make the other players feel weak in comparison.

The other players are playing a Tiefling, a Goblin, and a Variant Human.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps you should write down, and then include in the question, a self-contained description of this lineage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 10:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ No need to include all the racial traits in the question. Readers with access to those (paid) resources can find them easily enough, so I would recommend referencing their locations in their respective sourcebooks (Van Richten’s, Eberron). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ How much does your DM pay attention to light levels? \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 20:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @John …I am the DM. I do enforce disadvantage for dim light and such… but with a human in the party I doubt they will ever be without a torch. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 21:26

2 Answers 2

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This is not much stronger than the base Dhampir.

I think Vampiric Bite is far and away both the hardest ability to balance in play, and the hardest to evaluate. But if you're considering letting your player play a Dhampir at all, I will assume you consider the base Dhampir balanced (enough to work as a baseline, at least). So let's compare what you gain and what you lose compared to that, using the Detect Balance point values.

Gain: 9 points

  • Shapechanger (+9)

Lose: 16 points

  • 1 Language (+1)
  • 35' walking speed (+2)
  • 2 skills (+5)
  • Deathless Nature (+4)
  • Spider Climb (+4)

The exact point values are subjective, of course, but it's clear that you're giving up a lot in order to get Shapechanger. This includes both flavorful, mechanically powerful racial abilities like Deathless Nature and Spider Climb, and common abilities that help round out the character (languages, skills, movement speed). What you're left with is a very barebones character, with just their ASIs and two powerful, flavorful racial abilities. If your core concept is "Dhampir Changeling", you have the most important parts to make that work.

If you think this still might be too powerful, I think you've already identified the key abilities that are most likely to unbalance combat (Deathless Nature and Spider Climb). I'm not sure what else you would remove - except for Vampiric Bite. It would be the easiest way to ensure balance, but then it might not be enough of a Dhampir for you.

If you think you've removed too much, you could add back in some flavorful skills or languages; they can help round out the character without greatly impacting the power of your flagship abilities.

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Dhampirs (assuming that you are using dhampir from Van Richten's guide to Ravenloft) are quite overpowered, given their racial abilities, which include, but not limited to moving faster than other humanoids, permanent Spider Climb starting from level 3, not needing to breathe, etc.

Adding anything else to the core dhampir abilities is not necessary to make them overpowered.

Changeling's ability 'Shapechanger' is pretty powerful in social-based, investigative or espionage campaign. Though with a bit of creativity it can be applied to dungeon-crawling and combat-oriented campaigns (turn into enemy boss or his captain of the guard or something else like that and walk through dungeon, watching enemy guards saluting you).

Mixing those two would result into overpowered game-breaking character, but mostly because it has Dhampir in it. Compared to Tiefling, Goblin and Variant Human (who are your other players, as far as I understand) - only tiefling may be close to dhampir in terms of 'game-breaking', if he took 'winged' option (because flight allows to escape a lot of problems at low levels and help with lots of things later).

If only 'Shapechander', 'Vampiric Bite', 'Darkvision' and Attribute Increase are included in the race, then it's not as broken, obviously.

Such race is less broken, than a normal Dhampir (though possibility of stacking huge bonus to next attack/check through Bite with some buffing spells/abilities may be worrying). And somewhat more powerful than normal Changeling.

Like Changeling it's powerful at situations Shapechanger can be applied, having unfair advantage over any other races at pretending being someone else.

Vampiric Bite allows to survive better at lower levels and gives potential of getting an extra +10-15 to a check/attack with some buffing and having right feats/class combo.

Downside is that this combo race lacks racial skill proficiency (both original Dhampir and Changeling have 2 skills to choose) - which may limit what character can do outside of combat and usability of 'Shapechanger', making player choose whether they want to pick socially-focused skills of class and background or more universally useful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Dhampirs abilities are not included. Only the vampiric bite ability is. And… saying Dhampir are overpowered is opinion based. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame, Dhampir in Von Richten's is overpowered - it's a walking collection of useful traits made to be better than most of other races. No need to breath - allows to avoid some spells and traps. Spider Climb - allows to avoid melee in many cases and traps. Speed - allows hit-and-run tactics against most regular humanoids. Everything else is just adding to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sarge
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sarge the walking speed is nice, but hit-and-run tactics only help against melee-only characters (and you still risk opportunity attacks), so it's far from overpowered. Not needing to breath and spider climb are both extremely situational and only as powerful as far as your DM creates/allows these situations. Even counting only the other races in that campaign, I would argue that the variant human can be just as strong if they pick a feat that suits their respective class well (especially if the DM isn't very strict with darkvision rules). Point being: how strong a race is, is opinion-based \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Only the Vampiric Bite is included in this race. Every reason you give for Dhampir being OP is irrelevant to my question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 21:28

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