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As a new DM to D&D, one of my players came up to me and said, "I want to play a vampire." Alarm bells went off from the research I did. However, skipping past the whole vampires being a disaster in 3.0, what about these homebrew 5e Dhampirs in Curse of Strahd?

Having read the book, I see why dhampirs would be difficult story wise. Too many vampires can take away from the one big vampire. However, I feel confident my group will like the humor/horror provided in the story-play, especially if I can give Strahd something to make him more impressive.

Rules-wise, if I could take the character in my link above and update it with a few modifications to reduce its extremely generous advantages:

Vampire Heritage. Whenever you grapple, incapacitate, or restrain a creature, you gain the ability to bite that creature dealing 1d6 piercing damage. Furthermore, you can spend your turn drinking the blood of that creature, causing it to loss 1d6 necrotic damage. The creature's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and you regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest, it dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.

  • my modification: if creature is undead PC receives 1d4-1d6 necrotic damage instead.
  • furthermore to join any party this character would need to keep its nature a secret even from the player's own party.

(still working out the details on dealing with the revelation scenario & if dhampir is KO'd, I'm still assessing options. death-like coma?)

Is this change enough? or am I missing a crucial piece?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just so you know, Wizards has released an actual Vampire race in their MTG crossover material: media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/magic/… \$\endgroup\$ – lithas Apr 27 '16 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the same document there's also a elf sub-race called the "Mul Daya", who have sunlight sensitivity and could possibly be spun into a more traditional vampire with a little work \$\endgroup\$ – lithas Apr 27 '16 at 23:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lithas I looked at the stats for these. Thank you. I'm probably gonna steal one of the advantages. I thought it is important to note the significant stat drop from the proposed dhampir build the MTG vampire has. For better or worse I'm intending to try adding some features from the Drow, specifically keen senses, and a later level ability of either "transmog" or some rendition of "dash" to try to make her PC enjoyable. I'll update here if the build is successful. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Apr 28 '16 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that the linked dandwiki page has been edited several times since you asked this question (which is a main reason why we ask that questions quote/summarize all relevant information in the post itself, rather than just posting a link). The quoted racial trait isn't even in the linked page anymore. You may want to look through the page's revision history and find the version your question was based on. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 26 at 4:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ It looks like this is the latest page edit before April 26, 2016. Can you look over it and confirm that that's the version of the race that you were asking about? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 26 at 4:17
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This Dhampir race is effectively a weaker version of a Drow, so I'll compare it to that.

  • Ability Score Increase: The Dhampir gets to choose between the ability score bonuses of the Drow and those of the Dragonborn. This is perfectly in line with existing races.

Stuff the Dhampir gets:

  • Age & Alignment: Don't really matter from a balance perspective.

  • Size: The same as everyone else.

  • Speed: The same as almost everyone else, including the Drow.

  • Superior Darkvision: The same as the Drow.

  • Sunlight Sensitivity: The same as the Drow.

  • Dhampir Magic: The Dhampir gets a 1st level spell 1/day at 1st level, and a 2nd level spell 1/day at 3rd level. The Drow gets a cantrip, a 1st level spell 1/day at 3rd level, and a 2nd level spell 1/day at 5th level. This is the first real difference between the two. The Dhampir gets their racial spells 2 levels earlier, which is obviously stronger up until 5th level when it stops mattering. Not getting a free cantrip goes a fair way towards balancing this out, though.

  • Vampiric Heritage: I'll come back to this.

  • Vampire Weaknesses: If you're incapacitated in a place of rest, you're probably asleep. It's pretty easy to kill someone who's asleep in general, so this doesn't really change much. There might be niche cases where it really comes into play but most of the time it shouldn't matter much.

Languages: Common and one other, just like every other race. The freedom to choose is nice, but hardly imbalancing.

Stuff the Dhampir doesn't get that the Drow does:

  • Keen Senses: Free proficiency in the most important skill in the game. This is pretty strong.
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws against some of the most dangerous spells in the game, and immunity to the Sleep spell. This is also pretty strong.

  • Trance: Depending on your group and your DM, this might be important, but for most players, it's not going to matter a whole lot.

  • Drow Weapon Training: This is kind of nice, but most builds that need weapon proficiencies involve a class that gives them, so it's not that nice.

Overall, the Dhampir is probably a weaker version of the Drow. Their racial magic trait is a little better before level 5, but after that it's the same, minus a cantrip. Now for the elephant in the room.

Vampiric Heritage

Whenever you grapple, incapacitate, or restrain a creature, you gain the ability to bite that creature dealing 1d6 piercing damage. Furthermore, you can spend your turn drinking the blood of that creature, causing it to loss [sic] 1d6 necrotic damage. The creature's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and you regains [sic] hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest, it dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.

The problem with this is "the ability to bite that creature dealing 1d6 piercing damage". Does this require an action? A bonus action? No action at all? Does it give you the ability to do that when you grapple them, or anytime while you're grappling them? It doesn't really give us anyway to know.

The good news is that it doesn't really matter. Unless it requires no action and is anytime while you're grappling them, this is a pretty weak ability. If it's free when you grapple them, you can grapple, bite, let go, grapple, bite, let go and so on up to 4 times (if you're a Fighter). Except that you're just dealing 1d6 damage, so you'd have been better off attacking normally. Assuming your Strength score is 16 or higher, you'd have been better off punching them!

It only gets worse with other interpretations, too. If it requires an action and you can do it anytime while grappling, you're effectively using a turn to deal 1d6 damage, which is pretty much a joke.

Moving along to the other half of the ability, we have the ability to spend your turn drinking the blood of a creature. It's pretty clear what "spend your turn" means, and it makes for a pretty useless ability. Using your entire turn to deal 1d6 damage and gain 1d6 hit points might be ok at level 1 but it's going to become a joke pretty quickly.

The reducing maximum hit points part is useless because if you do enough damage to kill them with it, they would have died anyway. In general, D&D characters want to kill things, not inconvenience them. It could be used as a way to prevent an enemy regaining hit points, but there's a cantrip that does the job better and more efficiently.

So, overall, the Dhampir is pretty much a weakened version of the Drow race with some unique but useless features.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be interesting if the bite damage and drain scaled up like cantrips do... seeing as it's missing a cantrip, relative to the Drow. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Oct 3 '17 at 14:16
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My version would get 2 dex, 1 charisma, negative energy affinity which reverses the the effects of healing spells and necromancy spell, for example necromancy spells heals dhampirs and healing spells damages them, as a racial ability I would give them a weaker version of vampiric touch except that instead of a touch attack it's a bite attack maybe once per round or day, than add the drow's light sensitivity and dark vision, like the guy above-mentioned, this would be closest thing to pathfinder version of the dhampir race.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey @Chris, welcome to the site! Just so you know, this site requires answers to be backed up and supported somehow. "Here's what I would do" isn't very helpful if you haven't tested your solution and can show if and how it works! And in this specific case, OP is asking about feedback for their build, not asking for what others would do with their homebrew and so this doesn't really address that question at all. See here for more details on what we expect from answers \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 25 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Aside from that please do note that we aren't a forum and please take our tour to see how that makes us different! If you are confused or concerned about anything at all please see this post for how and where you can go to seek help/answers. Just remember, we are here to help! \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 25 at 15:54

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