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So I got this sudden thing to want to play a vampire. I tried to do some research on vampires in the 5th edition of D&D, but I couldn't find anything. Am I able to play a vampire in the 5th edition, with the DM's permission, of course?

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The Dhampir lineage from Van Richten's Guide is the player facing option for this.

The Monster Manual contains an optional rule for making a player character into a vampire, but it is more a DM-facing rule than a player-facing rule, as it states:

The character's alignment becomes lawful evil, and the DM might take control of the character until the vampirism is reversed with a wish spell or the character is killed and brought back to life.

Additionally, the Monster Manual is explicitly a DM-facing book, as stated in its introduction:

The Monster Manual is one of three books that form the foundation of the Dungeons & Dragons game, the other two being the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The Monster Manual, like the Dungeon Master’s Guide, is a book for DMs. Use it to populate your D&D adventures with pesky goblins, stinky troglodytes, savage orcs, mighty dragons, and a veritable horde of creepy crawlies.

So a player character can't really point to this and say to the DM, "I am a vampire now". However, Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft contains a playable race option called a Dhampir, which is the player-facing vampire themed race:

Poised between the worlds of the living and the dead, dhampirs retain their grip on life yet are endlessly tested by vicious hungers. Their ties to the undead grant dhampirs a taste of a vampire’s deathless prowess in the form of increased speed, darkvision, and a life-draining bite.

With unique insights into the nature of the undead, many dhampirs become adventurers and monster hunters. Their reasons are often deeply personal. Some seek danger, imagining monsters as personifications of their own hungers. Others pursue revenge against whatever turned them into a dhampir. And still others embrace the solitude of the hunt, striving to distance themselves from those who’d tempt their hunger.

The Dhampir is a fully functioning playable race, taking the place of a conventional race, and has several thematic vampiric features. With the DM's permission (since it is from an optional expansion), you can pick a conventional race to turn into a Dhampir when creating a character, following the rules given for doing so:

Ancestral Legacy

If you replace a race with this lineage, you can keep the following elements of that race: any skill proficiencies you gained from it and any climbing, flying, or swimming speed you gained from it.

If you don’t keep any of those elements or you choose this lineage at character creation, you gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.

Alternatively, the Dhampir template can easily be applied to an existing race, as encouraged in the introduction to Lineages:

A character might choose a lineage during character creation, their transformation having occurred before play begins. Or, events might unfold during adventures that lead your character to replacing their race with this new lineage. Work with your DM to establish if you’re amenable to such a development and how such stories unfold.

The race description in Van Richten's Guide has several tables giving ideas for filling in your back story, some of them are directly related to proper vampires, and some of them less so.

If you do not have Van Richten's Guide and do not wish to purchase it, the Unearthed Arcana playtest version of the Dhampir lineage can be found in the Gothic Lineages article for free. It contains much of the same thematic material of the official version, but some of the features were tweaked for balance in the final release.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This helps me a lot. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2022 at 17:08
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Yes, you can if your DM is OK with it

The Vampire entry in the Monster Manual has a whole text box on Player Characters as Vampires. It is however up to your DM, if they let you play the vampire, or if they take control of it:

The game statistics of a player character transformed into a vampire spawn and then a vampire don't change, except that the character's Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores become 18 if they aren't higher. In addition, the character gains the vampire's damage resistances, darkvision, traits, and actions. Attack and damage rolls for the vampire's attacks are based on Strength. The save DC for Charm is 8 + the vampire's proficiency bonus+ the vampire's Charisma modifier. The character's alignment becomes lawful evil, and the DM might take control of the character until the vampirism is reversed with a wish spell or the character is killed and brought back to life.

As you can see, a vampire version of the character will be significantly stronger than a typical normal character, with much better physical stats and in addition with special added powers. If you as a DM want to allow a player in your group to run a vampire, you should consider the balance of power with the other characters -- parties of widely different power levels of characters can be probelmatic to run.

There are two possibilities how players can become vampires: either it is something they work out with the DM as a character concept, or, they get turned into a vampire by encountering a vampire and getting killed by the vampire's necrotic bite damage and buried in the ground.

As a character concept, because the power boost of becoming a vampire is so large, it may be better to use the Dhampir "Lineage" or race from the Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft as elaborated in more detail in the accepted answer.

In case the character became a vampire through being killed by one, as a DM take care to handle this fairly and conserve the player's agency in the process. Do not force them to play a vampire that does evil if they do not want to, rather run it as a monster and let the player make a new character.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To add on to my question, does that mean I could turn a player into a vampire? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2022 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I hope not. The player is going to remain a human :) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2022 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate your help. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2022 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's also a Dhampir "Lineage" in the Ravenloft book which gives you vampire powers, without the gigantic power boost that becoming a Vampire Spawn gives. You can take it at character generation and treat it like a race (gaining two skill proficiencies) or acquire it later (replacing most of your species traits except for skills or special movement speeds). It's probably an easier sell to the DM. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2022 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could my starting race be a vampire? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2022 at 17:00
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In addition to Thomas' answer, you might also reference the Planeshift: Ixalan or Zendikar modules which include a vampire racial option. Both modules are freely downloadable if you are interested.

The Vampire races presented in those source books are a little unpolished (not surprising, given they were created very early on in fifth edition).

For example: the mechanics of the Zendikar Vampire's Blood Thirst (two words) features slightly different wording from the Ixalan Vampire's Bloodthirst (one word) feature.

Specifically, the Zendikar vampire's feature has an additional sentence at the end about turning victims into Nulls (see below) that Ixalan's does not.

Blood Thirst

You can drain blood and life energy from a willing creature, or one that is grappled by you, incapacitated, or restrained. Make a melee attack against the target. If you hit, you deal 1 piercing damage and 1d6 necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and you regain 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 killed in this way becomes a null (see “A Zendikar Bestiary”).

Zendikar's Bestiary describes Nulls as a "strong, faster version of a zombie." However, no actual stats are provided to demonstrate how this additional strength/speed manifest in terms of changes to the basic zombie's stat block.

If you opt to play the Planeshift Vampire races, you'll need to discuss it with your DM to address this issue.

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I dont know about playing a literal vampire, as in the monster manual vampire, however the Dhampir is a playable race which is basically a vampire. Dhampir's even get a few flavor options for other things, like being posessed by a demon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you are referring to the Dhampir from a UA article, or from Von Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, it would be best to include the source as a part of your answer. Folks without that source book would be at a loss to find the Dhampir PC race. Welcome to RPGSE. The help center, tour, How to Ask and How to Answer provide some guidance on how to get the most out of this SE formatted Q&A site. Happy Gaming! 😊 \$\endgroup\$ Oct 30, 2022 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I put up the obligatory [citation needed] here: Where do you get your information from? What qualifies this as more than a comment? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Oct 30, 2022 at 16:32

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