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I need to one shot a Vampire for story reasons, so I'm looking for an effective method. Would managing to drive a wooden stake through a non-helpless vampire's heart work?

(The plan is to have a Cyclops use Flash of Insight, to automatically hit the heart. Although the vampire wouldn't be helpless they would be surprised (most likely).)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you going for melee, ranged, or magic attacks? \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 13 '16 at 5:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. Steel yourself for disappointment: It's entirely possible there's no official way to one-shot a vampire in Pathfinder. With that in mind, are answers incorporating material from Pathfinder's predecessor D&D 3.5 acceptable? Or third-party material for Pathfinder or even D&D 3.5? Anyway, thank you for participating and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 13 '16 at 8:08
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Yes, but it's very unlikely.

Trying to hit a specific location on a creature requires the variant rules for called shots (Ultimate Combat p.193). Which even specify how they interact with vampires and cyclopses.

A called shot is an attack aimed at a particular part of the body, in the hope of gaining some extra effect from the attack. The smaller or better guarded the area, the more difficult the called shot. A called shot is a single attack made as a full-round action, and thus can’t be combined with a charge, feats like Vital Strike, or multiple attacks with a full-attack action.
Some effects in the game, like true strike or the flash of insight ability of cyclopes, provide automatic or nearly automatic hits. Using such an ability on a called shot turns it into a normal attack, with none of the benefits or penalties associated with called shots. From a story perspective, this is because the effect cannot distinguish between a hit in general and a hit in a particular area, but it’s also necessary to keep the power of such abilities in line with their original intended effects. Some Game Masters may prefer a more theatrical or dangerous game in which magic can make a shot through the eye nearly certain, in which case this rule can be ignored.
The consequences of a successful called shot vary depending on whether the hit is a normal hit, a critical hit, or a debilitating blow (a hit that deals half the creature’s hit points of damage (minimum 50) or more).

Heart

Called shots to the heart are challenging (–10 penalty).

Called Shot: A called shot to the heart is just a normal hit with no extra effect.

Critical Called Shot: [...] A critical hit to the heart against a vampire made with a piercing weapon composed entirely of wood leaves the vampire impaled through the heart by the weapon if it fails its Fortitude save, with effects as described in the vampire monster details.

Debilitating Blow: [...] A debilitating blow to the heart against a vampire made with a piercing weapon made entirely of wood affects the vampire as a critical hit to the heart; for example, it still receives a Fortitude save to avoid the consequences.

So it's theoretically possible, but you have to pass all of the following criteria:

  • Perform a single attack as a full-round action. (Unless you've taken a feat to relax this constraint.)
  • Hit while taking -10 to the attack roll, and without using Flash of Insight or anything else that would trivialize this step.
  • Either get a critical hit or deal at least 50 damage or half the vampire's hp (whichever is higher).
  • And finally the vampire gets a fort save. (DC = the numeric result of your attack roll, i.e. the highest AC it could have hit).
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm stunned the devs would address flash of insight specifically. That's actually pretty impressive. I assume the specifics of staking trump the general rule for undead creatures? That is, such an attack overcomes the vampire's "[i]mmunity to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless)." Or is the expectation that, prior to staking, a vampire hunter somehow removes that trait? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 13 '16 at 9:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like a case of specific-beats-general, in that we have a rule specifically about vampires that calls for a fort save. But I don't see anything in called shots that explicitly addresses undead immunities. \$\endgroup\$ – topquark Jul 13 '16 at 9:13
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I do believe the spell Sunburst, if you can get your hands on 8th-level spells, does exactly what you need here, provided the vampire fails its save:

In addition, the burst results in the destruction of any undead creature specifically harmed by bright light if it fails its save.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer, which adress directly the main question. May I suggest to add a detail? In addition of thing specifically designed to get rid of someone/thing, there are the vorpal weapons, which decapitate victim upon critical hit. As specified in the description, Vampires are among the only undead that die from getting their head severed. Less efficient than sunburst, more costly, but it's a fit for the question too. \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Jul 26 '16 at 10:14
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Actually you can do it, if you define one shot as one ROUND.

Heartstake Crossbow Bolts. Hit them with one and they have to make a DC 20 Fort save or be Helpless for one round. As long as you, or another PC, gets to them before that time is up then they can drive the bolt the rest of the way in and kill them as a full round action.

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedRaceGuide/featuredRaces/dhampirs.html#heartstake-bolts

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