4
\$\begingroup\$

Trying my hand at making a custom template. I wanted to make a vampire-ish character, but both the vampire and half-vampire templates were kind of sucky. After some googling I found the Dhampir (Denizens of Dread page 55, Ravenloft supplement) and felt like this was the perfect fit - if it didn't have +8 LA. I am trying to make a "Lesser Dhampir" which is usable by PC's, with no more than +2 LA without losing out on iconic features and abilities.

My goal is to make a half-vampire with Bram Stoker's Dracula as "base", as it seems Ravenloft has also been more loyal to that source than the MMs have been, and since its my personal preference.

A normal Dhampir is an inherited template with +8 LA which causes the following changes:

  • Hit Dice: Increased by one die type, to a maximum of d12.
  • Armour Class: Natural armour increased by +4.
  • Attacks: Gains a Slam attack if it didn't already have one, just like a vampire.
  • Full Attack: A Dhampir fighting without weapons uses it's Slam attack or its natural weapons if it has any. If armed, the Dhampir usually uses the weapon as its primary attack along with a slam or other natural attack as secondary natural attack.
  • Special Attacks: (Saves have a DC of 10 + 1/2 Dhampir's HD + Dhampir's Charisma modifier unless noted otherwise)
    • Domination (Su): A Dhampir who meets an opponent's gaze can affect the opponent as the spell dominate person (caster level 12). This is similar to a gaze attack, except that the Dhampir must take a standard action, and those merely looking at it are not affected. The ability has a range of 30 feet.
    • Blood Drain (Ex): By making a successful grapple check, if the Dhampir pins the foe, he drains blood, inflicting 1d4 points of Constitution damage every round that the grapple is maintained.
    • Children of the Night (Su): Once per day, call forth a pack of 4d8 dire rats, a swarm of 10d10 bats, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard actions. These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the Dhampir for up to 1 hour.
  • Special Qualities:
    • Damage Reduction (Su): Gain DR 10/magic
    • Resistance (Su): Gain resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10.
    • Spider Climb (Ex): Climb surfaces as though with a spider climb spell (caster level 12).
    • Fast Healing (Ex): Gain Fast Healing 1.
    • Blood Requirement (Ex): Must feed on a humanoid once per week or it cannot use its supernatural special attacks or special qualities.
    • Vulnerability to Sunlight (Su): Cannot use its supernatural special attacks or special qualities in natural sunlight.
    • Restless (Su): When a Dhampir dies, 1d4 days after bural the Dhampir template is removed. If the base creature had less then 5 HD it returns as a vampire spawn. If it had 5 or more HD it gains the vampire template. Destroying the Dhampir's body as one would destroy the body of a vampire prevents this.
  • Abilities: Increase the following abilities as follows:
    Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4.
  • Skills: Recieve a +6 racial bonus on the following skills:
    Bluff, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, Spot.
  • Feats: Gain Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved initiative, and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, assuming the base creature meets the prerequisites.

The rest is either unchanged or irrelevant to PC's.

My goal is to create a template with LA +2 at most.
I have changed the above to the following:

  • Hit Dice: Remains the same as the above.
  • Armour Class: Natural armour increase reduced to +1.
  • Attacks: Remains the same as the above.
  • Full Attacks: Remains the same as the above.
  • Special Attacks: Save DC remains the same.
    • Domination (Su): Replaced with Charm (Su). Works like the spell, has 1 + 1 every fifth HD uses/day. (1 by level 1, 2 by level 5, etc.) Caster level equals HD.
    • Blood Drain (Ex): Allows a Fort save.
    • Children of the Night (Su): Due to a lack of a method to balance this ability or fitting replacement, removed. (The "Summon X" spells don't fit in my opinion.)
  • Special Qualities:
    • Damage Reduction (Su): Reduced and changed to DR 5/magic bludgeoning.
    • Resistance (Su): Removed.
    • Spider Climb (Ex): Changed to Spider Climb (Su). Has 1 + 1 every fifth HD uses/day. Caster level equals HD.
    • Fast Healing (Ex): Removed.
    • Blood Requirement (Ex): Remains the same as the above.
    • Vulnerability to Sunlight (Su): Remains the same as the above.
    • Restless (Su): Removed.
  • Abilities: Changed to the following: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2. I personally think Charm gives them enough "Charisma", and they don't need a mental ability increase on top of that.
  • Skills: Not determined yet. Will depends greatly on the LA.
  • Feats: Removed.

I have not used Savage Species, as many people say it's unbalanced. I have used this question's accepted answer as a guideline of what I've come up with so far.

What would be the appropriate LA of the custom template? What changes should I make to reduce the LA to +2 or even +1, preferably without losing the Bram Stoker-ness?

I have looked at the Half-Vampire template and rejected it for several reasons. I didn't like their variant of the Blood Drain ability because of the drain-cap. The temporary HP also didn't appeal to me.
The Charm Gaze seemed too strong to me. My stretch goal is getting the template to be +1 and giving them a fourth-level spell as a spell-like ability didn't seem like a good idea.
The Children of the Night ability doesn't scale at all, and quickly becomes useless. I don't like that.
The Blood Dependency of the Half-Vampires didn't feel right to me, especially compared to the variant of the Dhampir. I feel like the latter is simply more true to Stoker.
The Fast Healing seemed like a nearly useless ability to me. I've honestly never seen it in action, but healing 1 hp per round seems simply utterly useless to me, yet it adds to the LA.
The resistances don't make me too hot. If removing those would reduce the LA, I'd do it gladly. Again, I haven't really seen these kind of resistances in action.
I explained why I don't like the increase in Cha, and the answer I linked earlier explains why I'd replace it with an increase in Con.
I prefer adding unique abilities to templates instead of feats, and feel like adding a feat takes away from the power of the unique abilities, which means taking away from the unique-ness of the template. Improved Initiative in itself is fine, but I'd much rather have an improved version of another ability - or a decrease in LA.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl I have, but I found it to be boring at first glance, and it lacked a few of the options that the Dhampir did offer. There were also some specific aspects with that template that I didn't like, that I could easily solve by making my own template. Should I list this in the question specifically? \$\endgroup\$ – Joninean Apr 26 '16 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl Edited it. \$\endgroup\$ – Joninean Apr 26 '16 at 20:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Does your campaign use level adjustment buyoff? The answer will drastically differ based on this, because a template worth its LA at level 5 and a template worth its LA at level 20 look very different. \$\endgroup\$ – SPavel Apr 26 '16 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SPavel You may presume LA buy-off is allowed. \$\endgroup\$ – Joninean Apr 26 '16 at 21:33
1
\$\begingroup\$

To summarize what the template actually gives you so people don't have to cross-reference the two templates:

  • HD increased by 1 step, and +1 NA
  • Vampire's slam attack (presumably without the level drain)
  • Charm (presumably Person) a few times a day, and blood drinking on pin (Fort negates)
  • DR 5/magic and bludgeoning, Spider Climb a few times per day
  • Loses magic powers in daylight or if it doesn't drink blood for a week

  • +2 to physical ability scores

What is it worth against character levels?

Let's start with an LA of +2, and compare this to a guy without LA. Because you're playing with LA buyoff, we only care about characters before level 9 (when you can buy off all the LA).

As this template is a mix of magical and physical boons, I'll compare it against a the monk, since it also grants a mix of magical and melee abilities. Not that the monk is a particularly strong option, mind you. I won't bother comparing this race with a 3rd or 4th level character, since 1HD and 2HD characters are always fragile. We'll use Elite Array for the stats - 13 STR, 12 DEX, 15 CON, 8 INT, 14 WIS, 10 CHA.

5th level monk VS 3rd level monk/+2 dhampir

  • 36 HP (8+(4*4.5)+(5*2)) VS 30 HP (10+(2*5.5)+(3*3)): The monk is ahead by 6 hit points. It's not the end of the world, especially since DR is involved.
  • 14 AC vs 14 AC: The dhampir's natural armor bonus is matched by the monk's AC bonus.
  • +4 attack bonus vs +3 attack bonus. The dhampir is behind on BAB, but his strength bonus helps compensate. However, being behind in BAB means it's also harder to grapple and pin, so the usefulness of Blood Drain diminishes...
  • 1d8+1 (5.5) damage vs 1d6+2 (5.5) damage: The dhampir's slam attack is equal in strength with the monk's unarmed strike, thanks to his extra strength. He can use the slam as a secondary attack, but with a -2 total attack bonus, it's highly unlikely to hit anything.
  • Purity of Body and ki strike (magic) vs charm person and spider climb: The monk can now pierce damage resistance. Conveniently, the kind the dhampir gets. Let this show you that DR/magic is not super useful. Meanwhile, the dhampir's abilities are mostly useful out-of-combat. His charm has a uselessly low DC, but spider climb gets him to places others can't reach.
  • 8 maximum ranks in 4 skills vs 6 maximum ranks in 4 skills: The dhampir needs a +2 to a few skills so he doesn't fall behind.

At a glance, +2 seems fair - the dhampir's numbers are roughly equal to the normal monk's, as long as you give him some skill boosts and maybe another +2 Strength to compensate for the BAB lost and the dhampiric weaknesses.

What is it worth against other templates?

There are a couple of +2 LA templates out there already. Is this worth the same?

Phrenic: A +2 template that gives +4/+2/+2 to some ability scores, Power Resistance, and a slew of psi-like abilities (way more than just charm and spider climb). If anything, it's better than your dhampir.

Half-fey: +4/+2/+2/-2 for ability scores, a massive stack of spell-likes (including at-will charm), immunity to enchantment, and flight at double speed. Definitely better than the dhampir!

Verdict: Weak LA +2

The monk is a famously lousy character class, yet manages to keep up with or outpace the dhampir in every category. While this advantage will be steadily reduced as the dhampir gains more HD and is able to buy off its LA, it won't be until level 10 or 11 that it catches up. That might be half of the levels, but it's the vast majority of the levels that will be played - when was your last level 20 campaign?

Based on this, I would throw the dhampir some more bones. Increase the Strength bonus by +2, and maybe the Constitution one as well. Give him a +2 or +4 bonus to at least 4 skills. An increase in natural armor to +2 or +3 would not go amiss either.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ What can I change in order to make it a good LA +1? Other than that, good and very complete, and exactly what I needed. \$\endgroup\$ – Joninean Apr 27 '16 at 6:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think if Mnk5 is comparable to a dhampir Mnk3, it's safe to say that Wiz5 is better than dhampir Wiz3, likely making the template's LA +1 instead. That is, if the template only barely equals 2 levels in what's widely considered one of the game's most pitiful PC classes, it's probably worth only 1 level in just about anything else. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 27 '16 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan If we start balancing around levels of wizard, we're in trouble. By the time monk is offensively bad as opposed to regular bad (after level 6) this thing is already able to buy off a point of LA. \$\endgroup\$ – SPavel Apr 27 '16 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is that worth mentioning in your answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 27 '16 at 13:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.