There is only one way to become a vampire, which is a closely guarded secret amongst vampires - new vampires are not taught the method until they are deemed ready, as the last thing their master wants is for newly-made competition to be running around. In order to create a vampire, the victim must be energy drained until death. Once they have died in this way, they must be buried, preferably /with/ their new master to strengthen the bond. One day later, they will arise as a newly fledged vampire so long as they originally had at least 4 HD - if not, they do not survive the process and die. The newly created vampire is under the complete control of its creator until it is formally released or its creator dies. If the vampire was not buried with its creator, there is a 20% chance it will be independent, not under the control of its creator.
Vampires tend to be incredibly solitary predators. Most vampires will travel alone, never staying in one place long enough to arouse suspicion. Others will use their abilities to win themselves positions of power in human society, from which they can feed with impunity and cover their crimes. Older vampires will often have a number of thralls - that is, lesser vampires who were created by them and are bound to their will. Upon occasion, several vampires will nest together in one place, often some old crypt or other desolate place at the edges of human society. Despite their intensely solitary nature, vampires that nest together become fiercely protective of each other. However, this bond is transient, and they may well be at each others' throats a week later if the nest is disbanded.
Upon becoming a vampire, the newly-made undead will begin to manifest their unholy powers. Some will take place immediately - others will take time to manifest.
The newly-made vampire's strength rises to 18/76 (unless it was higher previously), giving them a +2 bonus to-hit and a +4 bonus to damage with weapons. Their dexterity rises to 16. Furthermore, their bare fists are deadly enough to deal 1d6+4 damage each. They also become totally immune to weapons that are non-magical - these will simply pass straight through the vampire as though they were incorporeal. If they have less than 8 hit dice, their HD increases to 8. The type of dice rolled do not increase beyond those granted by their class levels, however - a wizard vampire would have a minimum of 8d4 hp. Vampires' wounds heal at an alarming rate, allowing them to regenerate 3 hp per round. They become immune to all sleep, charm and hold spells, as well as to poison or paralysis. Furthermore, lightning or cold-based attacks will only deal them half damage. Finally, they move in complete silence, leave no tracks, and have the ability to spider climb at will, allowing them to scale sheer walls as quickly as if they were on foot.
All of the above attributes are "passive" abilities of a vampire. The other extraordinary powers of a vampire must be discovered by the fledgling of their own accord - obviously, this is a lot faster if their maker is around to guide them in learning to use their dark gifts. It might take a century to grow to the fullness of their power without instruction!
The ability to assume gaseous form or to assume the form of a large bat are usually amongst the first abilities learned by a fledgling vampire. These usually manifest the first time they are placed under great stress and are in need of a hasty escape, and can be performed at-will thereafter. Even if these conditions are not met, the fledgling usually becomes gradually aware of this power within three months of their rebirth into the night. It will never manifest before one month has passed.
Next is the ability to charm the unwary with their gaze. Those who meet the vampire's gaze must make a saving throw vs. spell at a -2 penalty or be affected as if by a charm person spell. This is often used to manipulate those who have learned the vampire's identity or to secure the invitation they need to enter an inhabited house. This is amongst the more subtle of vampiric abilities - while it usually manifests after a month of being turned, many vampires do not realise they possess this power until they are instructed in its use. Even if they use it by accident, they may not realise that they have done so, or they may simply believe that mortal minds are pliable to a vampire's words.
The power to call upon the service of creatures of the night is an ability that takes quite a lot longer to call upon. It is not until a year has passed and the vampire has almost fully woken to their dark power that they gain this ability. They may call upon rats, bats, and - in the wilderness - even wolves to serve them. Besides doing his bidding in the short term, these creatures will understand and obey the vampire and will do as he commands even once he has left the area.
The most terrifying power a vampire possesses, however, is the ability to drain the life force of a living creature, actually draining away its experience levels. Vampires drain 1 level when they feed, but they can also level drain their enemies in combat simply by laying hands upon them - this drains 2 levels, although it provides them no nourishment. Apart from the deadliness this imparts to the vampire, this form of attack is particularly terrifying because it is the mechanism by which new vampires are made - any humanoid of 4 HD or higher who is drained to death by a vampire will rise again as their thrall. This power comes after a full two years of vampirism.
Vampiric Weaknesses & Destruction
The awesome power of the vampire is offset by several weaknesses. Though they are masterful at blending into human society, their lack of a reflection can easily reveal them if they are careless. Further, the strong odor of garlic repels them, and they will find themselves incapable of entering any area protected by this herb. The holy symbol of any good god, presented with faith and conviction, will cause them to recoil from the bearer, and they will be unable to approach without finding some way to remove this obstacle. Likewise, a vial of holy water will deal 1d6+1 damage to the vampire that does not regenerate until they return to their coffin. Lastly, vampires may not enter a private, inhabited residence without an invitation - this is part of the reason their mesmerising gaze is so dangerous.
Vampires do not need to sleep in coffins, but it is strongly advisable that they do. A vampire slain in combat will be forced into gaseous form, and if it cannot find the coffin it has most recently slept in within 2 hours, it will be permanently destroyed. Otherwise, it will be restored to full health after resting in its coffin for 8 hours. As a coffin also provides a safe place to sleep during the sunlight hours, few vampires do not have one.
Permanently slaying a vampire is difficult; as noted above, "killing" one in combat will simply force it to return to its coffin to rest and regenerate. Exposing a vampire to sunlight, however, will slay it permanently within one round, as will immersing it in running water for three rounds. Finally, a vampire can be temporarily "killed" by staking it through its heart. However, it will return to life as soon as the stake is removed - to permanently kill it, one of the methods mentioned previously must be used. In the absence of running water or sunlight, a vampire can also be permanently destroyed by cutting its head off, stuffing it with garlic, and then burning both head and body of the vampire.
The vampire's blood lust never goes away; although feeding lessens it, they are never truly sated, and can always drink more blood. For a body that can no longer feel physical stimuli of any kind, drinking blood provides unimaginable pleasure to a vampire. Though powerful, a vampire is keenly and constantly aware of the unending coldness and emptiness of their existence. Where a human's soul would be is a yawning chasm, but when they drink blood they feel - even if only for a fleeting moment - what it is to be warm and alive once more.
Upon first rising from the grave, the newly created vampire will be possessed of an incredible bloodlust that is beyond their power to control in any way; they will savagely set upon the first creature they come across without regard for who or what they are and drain them dry. This has caused the death of many fledgling vampires as they are immediately killed upon discovery - or they kill the discoverers and go on a rampage of bloodlust. Either way, being a newly-turned vampire without a master to guide you is dangerous and difficult.
Thereafter, their bloodlust is more manageable. Young vampires need to drink blood far more than the old, and they find it much more difficult to control. The bloodlust becomes strong enough to distract the vampire once more after 24 hours have passed between feeds, and only grows from there. Over the course of days, it will become stronger and stronger, and the vampire will come closer and closer to losing control. Even if they pour all of their willpower into controlling their bloodlust, a new vampire will eventually reach their breaking point after a number of days equal to half their Wisdom score. After the breaking point is reached, the vampire will no longer be able to control themselves; if there is a source of blood available, they will do anything to feed. If not, then their every thought and emotion will be consumed by the need for blood, always on their mind and impossible to resist, driving them to seek out a source to feed from. This does not subside until they have fed, and while they are in this state they are a cold, cruel, cunning being entirely under the control of the DM.
There are two ways that vampires can feed.
When a vampire feeds on a living being, they do more than simply drink their blood - they drain their vitality, their very life force, in order to sate their unholy appetite. Draining blood from a living creature takes one minute, and leaves the living creature in a foggy stupor for the next 1-10 minutes unless something happens to shock them from their reverie. Willing or unwary creatures can be drained automatically; in combat, the vampire must first grapple and then "lock" their victim, making it very risky to attempt.
Draining blood from a level 0 victim, such as a peasant or town watchman, will result in their death. Anyone with class levels to their name will simply be drained of 1 level. Even if the victim was only level 1, they won't be killed by draining - instead, they will become a level 0 character with 1d6 hp (or their usual hp if it is lower), THAC0 20, and none of the abilities conferred by their class. Unlike other forms of level drain, however, this is only a temporary effect - drained levels slowly return at a rate of 1 level per week. A Restoration spell will immediately return any lost levels.
It is common for a vampire to return night after night to feed on a victim, but most vampires will be very careful to avoid draining their victims dry unless they intend to create a new vampire. The victims of a vampire's fangs are easy to recognise if you know the signs - they seem smaller, weaker, diminished. They have lost a little of the core of their being - fighters are weaker, mages lose the confidence and mental fortitude required to memorise their strongest spells, and so on.
Vampires can drink the blood of non-sentient creatures, but it is a horrible state of being. The blood of a non-sentient creature tastes limpid and disgusting to them; besides this, it provides little nourishment. A vampire fed on animal blood will be sluggish and slow in both body and mind, and will become fatigued extremely easily. They will also find their abilities nearly impossible to use. The overall result is that they suffer the negative effects of blood deprivation (loss of powers, strength drain) while they subsist on animals, although the effects halt once their Strength falls to 15. Although no Wisdom checks or anything of the sort are required, it takes great willpower to subsist on this diet, and the vampire ends up being practically human.
Draining by Touch
The most fearful power of a vampire, which does not manifest until 2 years have passed, is their ability to drain 2 levels at a single touch. Draining energy from a mortal directly by touching them will sate a vampire exactly as if they had drank their blood, and is a more powerful attack to boot. However, it is a far more indelicate method.
Because two levels are drained at once, anyone of level 0 or 1 will be instantly killed by this attack. Furthermore, levels drained in this way can only be restored with a Restoration spell, meaning that the victim cannot be "cultivated" night by night. It is also far less satisfying and enjoyable than draining blood. As a result, vampires tend to use their lethal touch only as a last resort.
Whether by choice or not, some vampires find themselves incapable of drinking blood. In addition to the constant, maddening cravings that hound them, being without blood weakens the vampire, depriving them of their dark gifts. After three days without blood, the most powerful ability of a vampire - the power to summon the creatures of the night as servants - is beyond them. After a week, they are deprived of their ability to change form and mesmerise mortals, leaving them only with their own passive abilities.
If their deprivation continues beyond a week, they will continue to weaken further. They will lose the power to spider climb and become as clumsy and loud as they were in life. Each week that passes after the first will reduce their Strength by 1 point and their regeneration by 1 hp/round. Once their Strength drops below 10, it becomes possible to slay them with nonmagical weapons - they will not turn to mist, but will be destroyed. At Strength 3, they can barely stumble 60 feet before being reduced to a crawl. Once their Strength drops to 1, they become too feeble to even move.
Once a vampire enters this final stage of blood deprivation, they are completely helpless and paralyzed - as lifeless as a corpse. If someone brings them a victim, they may have just enough strength to pierce their throat. If they have been in this state for a long time, they will not even have enough strength for this - the blood would need to be trickled down their throat.
Very few physical changes occur once this stage has been entered - all that happens, month by month, is that the physical form of the vampire becomes more decrepit and rotted. Their flesh clings to their bones and their muscles waste away. Their eyes recede into their sockets and their hair hangs from their scalp, coming away in shreds. Eventually, their skin takes on a black, withered appearance - like a mummified body. The further they have fallen into this state, the more living blood it will take to restore them. It is possible that a vampire deprived in this way will eventually be destroyed, but there are reports of vampires unearthed after 100 years - little more than a dessicated skeleton with a thin frame of black flesh stretched over it - that have been revived.
It takes two years for a vampire to full awaken to its power - a long time by human standards. This is not the end of a vampire's growth, however, but just the beginning. A vampire grows only stronger as they age through decades and centuries. Vampires first grow to their true maturity after 100 years of vampirism - this is when they are first set apart from regular vampires.
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Aging also mitigates the effects of the bloodlust. Fledgling vampires begin to thirst within 1 day of their last feed - and can resist for a number of days equal to half their Wisdom score after this. For each year a vampire survives, however, they can go another day before the thirst sets in again. By the time a vampire reaches a century, they need to feed very rarely indeed. For these "higher vampires", blood is more like a delicacy or a fine wine than a necessity.
Aging only occurs while the vampire is active and drinking blood. Vampires that are imprisoned and enter a blood-deprived coma do not continue to "age" until their vitality is restored. Note that the stats given are minimum - if the vampire already had a Dexterity of 17 and the table indicates it should be 16, they keep the old score. When a vampire uses their voice or their will to charm, rather than their eyes, no penalty is applied to the saving throw.