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.