Princes of darkness and queens of the night, dread vampires lurk in the dark places of the world, emerging by night to plague the living. Dread vampires possess many of the characteristics of normal vampires, but they lack many traditional vampire weaknesses. For instance, they laugh at garlic and holy symbols, and mirrors reflect their visages normally. Dread vampires have even been known to pluck wooden stakes from their hearts and drive them through the chests of their attackers.
Dread vampires resemble normal vampires and have many of the same abilities. Only when a creature not normally subject to vampirism exhibits a vampire’s powers, or when a vampire proves invulnerable to the tactics that vampire hunters usually employ, can a dread vampire be positively identified as such. This knowledge, however, often comes too late.
Wholly evil and powerfully corrupt, dread vampires can master a host of lesser vampires and weak-minded creatures. Each dread vampire has its own goals and personality, but most seek to dominate the world around them and lord their power over living slaves they use as desired.
“Dread Vampire” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dread vampire uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +3.
Alignment: Any evil.
Armor Class: Natural armor improves by +8.
Hit Dice: Change all of the base creature’s racial HD to d8s.
Defensive Abilities: A dread vampire has channel resistance +6; DR 10/good and silver; cold immunity; resistance to acid 10, electricity 10, sonic 10; and fast healing 5, in addition to all of the defensive abilities granted by the undead type. Dread vampire also gain the dread rejuvenation ability.
Dread vampire are notoriously hard to destroy. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, a dread vampire assumes gaseous form (see below) and attempts to escape. It must reach its coffin home within 2 days or be utterly destroyed. (It can normally travel up to 9 miles in 1 hour. ) Additional damage dealt to a vampire forced into gaseous form has no effect. Once at rest, the vampire is helpless. It regains 1 hit point after 1 hour, and then is no longer helpless and resumes healing at the rate of 5 hit points per round.
Even if a dread vampire is killed, if its remains are bathed in the blood of a single non-extraplanar good creature with at least a number of HD equal to the dread vampire’s, it returns to unlife within 1d4 minutes.
The method to permanently destroy a dread vampire is unique to each vampire, and should be created specifically for each different dread vampire by the GM.
Weaknesses: Unlike their lesser brethren, garlic or mirrors do not affect dread vampires. They ignore holy symbols unless they are presented by someone with strong faith (someone who can cast divine spells, or who is otherwise favored by their deity). Presenting a holy symbol is a standard action against which a dread vampire gets a Will save. The save DC is either Wisdom– or Charisma-based, whichever is better. If it fails, the dread vampire recoils and cannot approach within 5 feet or act against the presenter, and the dread vampire is considered staggered. The dread vampire gets another save each round the symbol is presented to act normally.
Dread vampires cannot enter a private home or dwelling unless invited in by someone with the authority to offer an invitation. If invited in, the dread vampire gains immunity to its normal weaknesses while in that abode for 1 month or until the invitation is revoked. If the dread vampire is in the home when an invitation is revoked, the vampire is immediately expelled and appears 30 feet from the abode’s entrance.
Reducing a dread vampire’s hit points to 0 or fewer incapacitates it, but doesn’t always destroy it due its fast healing ability. However, certain attacks can slay dread vampires, at least temporarily (see dread rejuvenation above). Exposing any dread vampire to direct sunlight staggers it on the first round of exposure, and it takes 5 hit point of damage each round after if it does not escape. While exposed to direct sunlight, the dread vampire does not gain the benefits of fast healing.
Unless the base creature has the aquatic subtype or has as swim speed, each round of immersion in running water inflicts 5 hit points of damage to a dread vampire—a dread vampire reduced to 0 hit points in this manner is destroyed.
Driving a blessed wooden stake through a helpless dread vampire’s heart instantly slays it (this is a full-round action); any other wooden stake has no effect on the dread vampire except for the weapon’s normal damage. If the blessed stake is removed from the dread vampire, the dread vampire comes back to life, unless the vampire’s head is severed, its body and head anointed with holy water, its body sanctified with a gentle repose spell, and its corpse buried in land under the effects of a hallow spell.
Speed: If the base creature has both a climb speed and a land speed, the lower of the two increases to match the higher. If it lacks one of those speeds, the dread vampire gains the missing mode of movement at a speed equal to the other. If the base creature lacks both modes of movement, the dread vampire gains both at a speed equal to one-half the base creature’s highest speed.
The dread vampire also gains a fly speed equal to one-half the base creature’s highest speed if it cannot already fly. Its maneuverability class becomes perfect. Flight gained by application of this template is supernatural in nature.
If the base creature has a swim speed, the dread vampire retains it and is not vulnerable to immersion in running water.
Attacks: The dread vampire gains a primary slam attack if it has no other natural attacks. The damage for this slam attack depends on the base creature’s size.
A dread vampire can drink blood from a living victim with its fangs by making a successful grapple CMB roll. If it pins the foe, it drains blood, dealing 1d6 points of Constitution damage each round it maintains the pin. The dread vampire heals 5 hit points or gains 5 temporary hit points for 1 hour (up to a maximum number of temporary hit points equal to its full normal hit points) each round it drains blood.
A dread vampire can command the lesser creatures and undead of the world. Three times a day, as a standard action, a dread vampire can summon creature a of the animal, vermin, or undead type. Each creature summoned must have an Intelligence score of 2 or lower. The dread vampire can summon any combination of creatures so long as their total Hit Dice is less than the dread vampire’s. Summoned creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the dread vampire for up to 1 hour.
Dread vampires can create spawn only if their victims are kept in coffin homes until they rise. A coffin home can be any container capable of accommodating the corpse. The container is often a coffin because ignorant family members of a dread vampire’s victims often bury their lost loved ones in the traditional manner. When a dread vampire wants to make a specific creature its spawn, however, it often places the body in a specifically designed receptacle, such as an iron box. If a dread vampire’s or vampire’s coffin home is ever destroyed, the vampire cannot reform and is destroyed when it reaches 0 hit points.
Under these conditions, a creature slain by a dread vampire’s energy drain attack rises as a standard vampire 24 hours after death. Any creature with an Intelligence score of 10 or higher whose Constitution score reaches 0 from a dread vampire’s blood drain attack returns as dread vampire 24 hours after death. A vampire or dread vampire created in this manner is under the command of its creator (as dominate monster) and remains so until either it or the creator is destroyed. At any given time, a dread vampire may have enslaved vampires or dread vampires totaling no more than three times its own Hit Dice; spawn created that exceed this limit rise as free-willed vampires or dread vampires. A dread vampire enslaved to its creator may create and enslave spawn of its own; thus, a master dread vampire can indirectly control a large number of lesser vampires. A dread vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved vampire or dread vampire in order to enslave a new one, but once freed, the former spawn cannot be enslaved again.
A dread vampire can crush an opponent’s will as a standard action. Anyone the dread vampire targets must succeed on a Will or fall instantly under its influence as though by a dominate monster spell (caster level equals dread vampire’s character level). The ability has a range of 30 feet and is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Special Qualities: The dread vampire retains all the base creature’s special qualities and gains those described here.
While in its alternate form, the dread vampire loses its dominate ability, but it retains all other special attacks and special qualities granted by the template and gains the natural attacks and extraordinary abilities of its new form. The dread vampire can remain in that form until it assumes another or until the next sunrise.
As a standard action, a dread vampire can assume the form of a swarm of creatures of any animals, vermin, or undead with the swarm subtype allowed by its children of the night ability. This is a polymorph effect.
A dread vampire can climb with its hands (or upper limbs) free and even walk about on the ceiling as if affected by a spider climb spell. In addition, it can use the accelerated climb action to cover any distance up to four times its climb speed, with each check allowing it to climb a distance equal to its climb speed. Climbing a distance equal to or less than its climb speed is a move-equivalent action.
Much has been written about vampires in roleplaying games. The dread vampire template provides GMs with a large stock of material to derive vampire variants and can make vampires a new challenge for players.
No matter how you change up the vampire in your game, make sure to keep balance in mind. It is very easy to upset the balance of a vampire with just a few tweaks to the templates. So, if you get rid of a weakness, replace it with another one. If you modify one of the special abilities, make sure it doesn’t give too much of an advantage to the players or the vampire. If it does, consider revamping the creature or changing the CR bonus as appropriate.
Here are a few ideas of how to change up your vampires
The vampire’s weaknesses are different from what the templates designate. Instead of garlic, a vampire could be repulsed by some other herb, or even the blood of a particular creature painted around the entrances.
A stake of blessed wood does not slay the vampire as above. The vampire is vulnerable to a different fairly common material. Some materials to consider are iron, obsidian, gold, quartz, the wood from a specific tree, or a sharpened blessed bone.
- The vampire is not affected by the sun but is weakened by some other common natural phenomena (phase of the moon, weather, season, etc.)
- Instead of draining blood, the vampire drains another fluid and affects another ability score. No matter which ability score, the victim dies when that score is reduced to 0 and can be revived as a new vampire or vampire spawn. For example, a vampire that drains spinal fluid drains Int instead of Con. When a victim reaches 0 Int, instead of becoming mindless, he or she dies and may be raised as a vampire of the same type.
- There are species of vampires, each one with different abilities and weaknesses. This can keep your party guessing about what kind of vampire they are facing.
Advanced Bestiary, Copyright 2014, Green Ronin Publishing, LLC; Author Jeff Hersh, Developer Owen K.C. Stephens