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Would it be hypothetically possible to make a player character that's a vampire? I think it would make a really good backstory. By make them a vampire, I mean the whole deal, vampire powers and all. Also, it would be optimal to keep class and/or racial abilities.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not to put too fine a point on it, did you do any research before asking this? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 0:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...Otto? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 0:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Collin - you may want to do some of your own research before asking these questions. They're attracting downvotes for showing a low amount of research effort. For example, googling "D&D 3.5e vampire character" turns up a lot of discussion on the matter, including discussions of the Vampire template which you don't seem to have come across either (as you're not even mentioning it). The Prestige Class question is problematic for similar reasons. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I knew about the template. I just didn't know that when it said it could be applied to "humanoid creatures" that also meant PCs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 15:16

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Disclaimer: I have never actually played the following template.

As mentioned by KRyan, a full Vampire would probably be awkward, however there is another more approachable template available for Half-Vampire: the Dhampir, from Ravenloft.

A Dhampir has only LA +2, and is actually a fairly potent template (from memory, +20 to attributes, 5 free feats, ...).

In terms of play, it is close to a Vampire:

  • it has a number of Vampire-like special attacks and qualities (blood draining when grappling, summoning bats/rats/wolves)
  • but cannot use them in broad daylight or if it has not drunk humanoid blood in the last week

Furthermore a Dhampir is doomed; if it dies, it either becomes a Spawn or a Vampire (depending on its number of HDs) in a couple days, unless properly dealt with.

I would say that this template has a real Vampire feel while remaining affordable for a mainstream D&D adventure.

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Yes, but it doesn’t work very well

The vampire template is in the first Monster Manual, and “can be added to any humanoid or monstrous humanoid creature,” granting several special abilities and drawbacks, including:

  • Undead type, with all the benefits and drawbacks that this entails

  • Blood Drain

  • Summoning rats, bats, or wolves, or turning into one of these or into fog

  • Dominate

  • Create Spawn

  • Vulnerability to sunlight, garlic, mirrors, holy symbols, or running water

  • Inability to enter a home uninvited

  • Dependency on a coffin

In addition to all of these things (and some minor bonuses and resistances and the like), the vampire template applies a Level Adjustment of +8. This means that a vampire counts as a character 8 levels higher than he or she actually is for the purposes of XP. Most importantly, it means that if your DM says your character is 8th level or lower, you cannot play a vampire at all (as any vampire counts as a minimum of 9th level).

Worse, even if you are playing in a game where you are high enough level, you have to deduct that LA from whatever level you’re suppose to be, and you only get that many class levels. So if your DM tells you that the campaign starts with 10th-level characters, and you make a vampire, your vampire only actually has two levels. That means you have 1st-level spells, BAB +2 at the most, approximately 16 HP, a maximum of 5 skill ranks in any given skill, pitiful saves, and so on.

Being so far behind is basically impossible. If you fight 10th-level foes (as you might expect as a 10th-level character), you’ll be killed in one blow by just about anything. You’ll fail every save, be nearly useless at skill checks, be unable to hit anything, and so on.

The Level Adjustment system is simply terrible, unfortunately, and vampire is one of the worst cases.

Finally, the quirks of vampirism make it very awkward to play a vampire in a group of non-vampires. Even if they’re OK with the whole undead, blood-drinking thing (or you successfully hide it), running water, homes lacking invitations, sunlight – those are all really, really common elements in the game. It’s going to be very difficult to keep the game running if you have that.

Now, vampirism can work well enough in a heavily-houseruled campaign where everyone is a vampire. But then, systems more dedicated to vampirism may be better choices for that than Dungeons & Dragons.

If you really insist, though, I will recommend Lords of the Night as a really serious, concerted attempt to make playing a vampire in an otherwise non-vampiric party workable... in Pathfinder. Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 are extremely similar, so back-porting the material may work well, but I haven’t personally tried to do so: my recommendation just comes from my high estimation of the author’s abilities.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, LA +8 is going to drive a stake through the use of the MM vampire...besides, it's almost as if they took every vampire-limiting trope and piled it into one description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 0:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I remember correctly, WoD d20 had vampire powers count as feats. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition to the +8 ECL, I believe the vampire template can only be applied to humanoids with 5 or more HD, so the player would need at least 5 other levels to qualify. \$\endgroup\$
    – kleineg
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 19:48
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Since this is a hypothetical that's been effectively answered by KRyan with regards to the RAW format, I'll also toss in the additional methods of achieving an RP style vampire that you could roll without the massive drawbacks of the actual Vampire template.

From Book of Exalted Deeds - Deathless

You can easily roleplay a Deathless character as a vampire. Simply add a requirement into your backstory for the consumption of blood or energy of a certain type. Impose your own negatives for not being able to feed.

From Libris Mortis - Necropolitan

Same goes for Necropolitan as it does for Deathless.

So there are two additional options to roleplay a vampire type creature without the massive LA. The tradeoff is that you don't get a bunch of the specific vampire abilities. However I would recommend talking to your DM about homebrewing some Vampire specific feats you can make. Basically, take a look at what you're not getting from the LA template for Vampire, and then add those abilities in accordingly over the course of 8 levels in order from least powerful to most powerful. That way, the LA is taken into account and you keep up with levels like everybody else without falling horribly behind on your class.

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Oddly enough, the book Libris Mortis has been mentioned and yet the Vampire Spawn Racial Class from that very book has been ignored. You want to play a Vampire with no level adjustment? Take that class at 1st level. Mind you, you will NOT be able to take any other class until you've taken all 8 levels but the difference between Vampire and Vampire Spawn isn't that large. Vampire Spawn don't get Alternate Form, Children of the Night, and an extra 5 Damage Reduction that Vampires get over Spawn. Everything else is almost negligible. Some slightly larger bonuses to skills and a couple of feats. If you're really hard set on getting that extra little bit though, talk to your DM about adding a few more levels to turn you from a Spawn to a full Vampire. But yes, it's definitely doable through the Vampire Spawn racial monster class from Libris Mortis.

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